Q’s Corner: Tread on me, don’t cap the state income tax



Taxes are the lifeblood of America. Without them, it would be impossible for the government to get anything done. Taxes pay for schools, infrastructure, police services, fire services and other social services.

That’s why it’s distressing that the North Carolina State Legislature has referred a constitutional amendment to the ballot lowering the maximum allowable state income tax from 10 percent to 7 percent.

Currently, North Carolina has a flat income tax rate of 5.499 percent. This is in addition to the federal income tax rate, which differs depending on the tax bracket an individual’s income falls into.

Ninety-seven percent of legislative Republicans supported this measure, while 95 percent of legislative Democrats opposed it. Initially, the state Senate wanted to cap the rate at 5.5 percent, but the House Finance Committee set it to 7 percent. This is, for lack of a better term, absurd.

As of 2018, North Carolina ranks 37th in the nation for teacher pay, and 39th in the country in per-pupil spending, according to the National Education Association. On average, North Carolina teachers make a little over $50,000, nearly $9,000 less than the national average.

Teachers are the backbone of society. If teachers are not paid an adequate amount, they’ll go somewhere else. When North Carolina teacher pay is as low as it is, how can parents be sure that their children are getting a quality education?

With the state income tax rate being so low, and potentially capped at the low rate of 7 percent, it’s almost certain that North Carolina teachers won’t receive any meaningful increase in income.

What’s even more absurd about this cap is the decision to enshrine it in the Constitution.

Even a basic understanding of economics says that economies are always changing. They shift dynamically, and, in order to keep them healthy, legislators must be able to respond to them as they shift. Putting this tax cap in the Constitution will rob future state legislators of the ability to pull in more funds as needed.

This cap is a short-sighted and narrow-minded. People’s income wouldn’t be taxed as much, but income taxes aren’t the only form of taxes. In the future, should a state legislature need more money, it could choose to increase either income or property taxes, leading to an unbalanced tax structure.

No one wants to pay taxes much in the same vein that no child wants to eat their vegetables. But much like vegetables are good for growing bodies, so too are taxes for a healthy state. Therefore, remember to vote against the North Carolina Income Tax Cap Amendment.