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Taxpayer Group Protests Possible Tax Hikes

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RALEIGH — The state budget shortfall is a serious problem, and it looks more and more like taxes will be raised to help balance it.

A series of loophole closings and some tax hikes means many of the things you buy will get more expensive. Tuesday, people who oppose more taxes gave lawmakers a piece of their mind.

Lawmakers are considering taxes on alcohol, long-distance phone calls, and cable TV. But some North Carolinians want lawmakers to keep their hands out of taxpayer's pockets. At the front of that line are Citizens For A Sound Economy.

"Those of us in Citizens For A Sound Economy want to see less. We want less (government spending)," Will Towne says.

Will Towne and other members of Citizens For A Sound Economy want lawmakers to pass a budget without increasing taxes. About 500 CSE members from across the state converged on the Capitol today. It is not that they do not want to pay any taxes.

"I want fair taxes," June Rodd says. "Not no taxes, just fair taxes, and we haven't had that in a long time."

Many CSE members are retirees, who do not want to pay for the state's budget shortfall. They say government should live within its means, just like they do.

"We need some relief as taxpayers, says Willie Ray Starling. "I'm retired, living on a fixed income, and they keep raising everything except your paycheck."

State lawmakers got an earful on the budget issue. But some lawmakers say the bottom line is they have to raise revenue somehow. Some are suggesting that big business pick up the tab.

"When an organization develops a loophole for itself, what it means is they aren't paying their fair share of taxes, says Paul Leubke, D-Durham. "The rest of us are paying more because that corporation has found a loophole."

Taxpayer groups say corporations do not pay taxes - their customers do. For example, liquor is one of the products that could get more expensive as lawmakers look for ways to raise money. If lawmakers closed loopholes on liquor companies, the groups say they would just pass the cost along to you.

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