Local News

Ad Campaign Targets Transfer Tax Proposals

Posted March 26, 2007 6:29 p.m. EDT
Updated March 27, 2007 9:30 a.m. EDT

— The North Carolina Association of Realtors has launched a statewide media campaign to fight proposals for a land transfer tax being considered by state lawmakers.

The tax is part of a menu of local funding options under consideration at the General Assembly looks for ways to help counties meeting growing infrastructure needs. Other ideas include a local-option sales tax, impact fees and a tax on new mortgages.

“The people of the state, and homeowners particularly, really despise transfer taxes. (It's) a tax that strips the equity from the homeowner when they sell their property,” Rick Zechini, director of regulatory affairs for the Association of Realtors, said Monday.

Various bills would give each county the right to charge a 1 percent tax on every land sale. That would cost someone selling a $200,000 house, for example, an extra $2,000.

“Ultimately, it’s (a homeowner's) money, not anybody else's,” Zechini said.

The campaign will include radio and television spots, direct mail pieces and an informational Web site at www.itsabadidea.org.

The battle might even get personal. There are indications that group could target individual lawmakers in future media campaigns.

Local government leaders said they think the need for new schools, roads and other infrastructure to keep up with growth would overwhelm the ad campaign.

“We don't see them as controlling the message,” said Rebecca Troutman, director of research for the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners.

Property taxes pay for the bulk of local infrastructure needs, but they don't generate enough revenue to keep up with growth, Troutman said. Taxing residential and commercial property sales is a logical way to bridge the gap, she said.

“It's not just the homeowner. In fact, what we think it would do is it would ease up on the homeowners' burden when it comes to property taxes,” she said.