Pope pans idea to scrap NC income tax

Posted January 23, 2013
Updated January 24, 2013

— Art Pope, who was named last month as Gov. Pat McCrory's budget chief, said Wednesday that a push by Senate Republicans to eliminate North Carolina's income tax is misguided.

Pope, who was speaking to journalists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, emphasized that he was speaking from his own perspective and wasn't conveying McCrory's official stance on any issue.

Legislative leaders want to replace the income tax with an increased sales tax rate that is applied to everything from groceries to car repairs, hair cuts and professional services.

A study by the left-leaning NC Budget and Tax Center said the wealthiest 20 percent of taxpayers would receive a significant tax cut, shifting the tax load to 60 percent of the state’s taxpayers, primarily middle-class and low-income households.

"A gross transaction tax, without any regard to whether you're actually making any money, not a tax on net income, I think that's going to hurt the economy," Pope said. "It is regressive in nature, no doubt about it."

The Budget and Tax Center also questioned the plan's ability to respond to changing economic conditions, such as when people cut back on spending, and noted that it would provide no additional money to invest in education or infrastructure. Art Pope Pope pans idea to scrap NC income tax

Pope said next year's state budget will be very tight. A projected surplus of $800 million will be eaten up by rising costs for education and Medicaid, leaving no extra money for badly needed repairs.

"North Carolina's going to have to go through its budget – prioritize, modernize, innovate – to find money for needs," he said.

He didn't offer any specifics on McCrory's budget proposal, which is expected out within the next few weeks.

A former Republican lawmaker, Pope is a divisive political figure. He served for years as a leader of the conservative group Americans For Prosperity, and he and his family are major donors to Republican campaigns, conservative think tanks and third-party groups.

Democrats slammed his cabinet appointment as a political payoff – some are even calling him Gov. Pope – but he said he's unfairly targeted.

"They use me to personify their opposition to the Republican majority, to conservative policies," he said. "Rather than debate the merits of the difference in the policy, they've pursued, at times, a very vicious, malicious personal attack."

Still, Pope said, those attacks are nothing new, and they didn't stop him from accepting the post as state budget chief.

"I'm very proud to serve Gov. McCrory, and I appreciate the fact that he doesn't get dissuaded by what's said on blogs," he said.


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  • Terkel Jan 24, 2013

    Maybe a sales tax would chase away the illegals, drug dealers, under-the-table "disabled" who collect AND work for cash, prostitutes, "yard salers" who do it for a living and don't report, people who buy junk and resell it on Craigslist for a living. Would that be so bad?

  • oldaltar Jan 24, 2013

    What did The POPE say. He said the proposed sales tax is regressive and would hurt people like you and me. That is it. What are you fusing about!

  • arfamr1007 Jan 24, 2013

    No, but apparently republicans are.

    how so? they are trying to create a business friendly climate where people can find work and make a good living. Every democrat policy costs businesses money and attempts to push them out of the country whether its income taxes, forced benefits, regulations, controlled profits, or a number of other ideas they support. Democrats also support programs that make it more appealing to stay home because entitlements pay better than entry level jobs. Why would someone hire an entry level worker and pay them $100k? That makes no sense but it is what democrats think should happen. You have no clue how a business operates and more than that no knowledge of basic economics. When the government incentivises laziness and punishes success, you are on the road to collapse. (51% of Americans will pay no net federal income tax this year, who do you think they will vote for in 2014?)

  • goldenosprey Jan 24, 2013

    so you're ok with only 0.5% of America being successful? "-arfamr1007

    No, but apparently republicans are.

  • arfamr1007 Jan 24, 2013

    So should you have to pay more taxes? IMHO yes. Graduating from middle-income to disproportionately wealthy SHOULD become progressively more difficult (not impossible of course, but difficult) in order to avoid the current obscene disparities in America.

    so you're ok with only 0.5% of America being successful? You sir or ma'am are unamerican to even suggest it should be difficult to be successful by way of taxation

  • jlp Jan 24, 2013

    "you have no evidence or facts supporting this." - lrfarms27572

    It's called math and common sense. You should give it a try sometime. Unfortunately Republicans are terrible at math.

  • jlp Jan 24, 2013

    "True but a lot of people complaining live off of free money so to me they have no voice. They are already living off the working man." - ncouterbanks69

    I'm not sure what country you live in but here in the United States, all citizens have a voice. We have this pesky thing called the Constitution that you conservatives only believe in when it benefits you.

  • jlp Jan 24, 2013

    "And pray tell, just how is an increase or decrease in the overall sales tax going to give Pope's stores a competitive advantage or disadvantage when every other store collects the identical same tax???" - JoCo50 at MXR

    I guess math was your worst subject. All of Art Pope's stores target the poor with cheap junk from China. Have you been to a Roses or Maxway lately? If these people with already tight budgets have to pay more for all of their goods and services, they are going to have less money left over to shop at Roses and Maxway. So while someone was correct that the tax is collected from the consumer with no direct impact on the companies bottom line, you are incorrect because it will cause this indirect effect on the bottom line described above. Shifting the tax burden to the poor means less money for the poor to by his cheap junk from China.

  • jlp Jan 24, 2013

    "It's interesting that WRAL would describe Pope as a "divisive figure" for being a Republican." - JoCo50 at MXR

    This shows your ignorance in the matter. It has nothing to do with being a Republican. Perdue and Barber never spent $40 million dollars over a decade to buy the entire state government. Do you have that kind of money to buy influence? One person should not have total control over the government. This is what we call a dictatorship. All three branches of NC government are now filled with puppets of Pope. McCrory is governor in title only. If he or any legislator crosses Art Pope they will find a primary opponent and a fierce negative campaign against them at the next election. This is how you buy a democracy.

    The funny thing will be to watch you people when you finally realize that you've been had and you aren't getting the change you hoped for. Enjoy your grocery bill next year.

  • Save It Jan 24, 2013

    "Art Pope's companies are downmarket retail stores. He doesn't want a sales tax increase because it impacts his bottom line." - bill15

    Bill wins. Not too many with six figure incomes shopping at Super Dollar. Pope knows his customer base can't absorb a sales tax increase. He's been robbing from the poor for a long time and doesn't need government competition.