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Commissioners’ group defends transfer tax

By Staff
Says NCAR’s claims not supported by data
By DAN PARSONS
Staff Writer
As a bill to authorize all 100 North Carolina counties to enact a 1-percent land-transfer tax awaits deliberation in the General Assembly; the fairness and effectiveness of the tax has come into question by real-estate agents.
But the N.C. Association of County Commissioners on Wednesday refuted claims by the N.C. Association of Realtors that the tax negatively affects economic growth.
Six counties — Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Pasquotank and Perquimans — have the tax. Washington County also was given the authority to impose the transfer tax, but it is the only county where the tax has failed to be approved in referendum, according to Washington County Manager David Peoples.
Counties across the state are reeling from high Medicaid costs and increasing public-school capital needs caused by population increases. As a result, many counties are searching for alternate sources of revenue to help keep their budgets in line with those increasing costs.
Washington County is expected to budget approximately $1.7 million in Medicaid expenditures for the next fiscal year. The revenue from a 1-percent transfer tax would not come close to covering that requirement, according to Peoples.
The N.C. Association of Realtors, by way of its Web site, contends the tax places a large burden on sellers of homes, is discriminatory because it is levied only against real estate and would “significantly damage the state’s economy.” The Web site’s anti-tax position may be viewed at www.itsabadidea.org.
NCACC research, based on figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, determined that Camden, Currituck, Pasquotank and Dare counties were among the 20 fastest-growing counties in the state from 2000 to 2006.
House Bill 1982, titled “Local Option Land Transfer Tax,” was filed May 8. It would grant all counties the authority to impose a transfer tax of up to 1 percent, provided that the public approve the tax in a referendum. The tax revenues would be shared with municipalities in the county on a per-capita basis and must be spent for public-works projects.