Don’t be hoodwinked

Published 6:41 pm Thursday, October 25, 2018

To the Editor:
Like many of us, I was confused about the constitutional amendment to cap our tax rate. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Who isn’t in favor of lower taxes? Too good to be true? I looked at the facts.
The constitutional amendment to permanently cap our tax rate at 7 percent from the existing cap of 10 percent would not lower either individual or corporate income tax rates paid currently. In other words, your taxes will not be lowered by this amendment. Your current rate is already below this. Today, individuals pay a flat 5.499 percent on taxable income while corporations pay 3 percent. Those rates will drop further in January 2019 to 5.25 and 2.5 percent respectively.
So who will benefit from this amendment, if you do not? Millionaires — the very rich — are the primary beneficiaries when the income tax rate is not allowed to go above 7 percent.
The simple truth is that lowering the income tax rate will not lower the critical budget needs in our state.
If you get a pay cut from your employer, do your bills and expenses reduce? Of course not! You still have to pay your electric bill, your mortgage. You still have to fix the leaky roof and provide for your children.
So where does our great state find the money to pay the state’s recurring expenses? To pay our teachers a fair wage? To maintain our sadly neglected schools and highways and bridges? To provide the public services that we all rely on, such as police, child protection, public safety?
There are only a few ways that states can raise funds: income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes and fees. This amendment will shift the burden of the state’s expenses away from the rich and onto our middle class and poor families in the form of higher property taxes, higher sales taxes and higher fees, such as car registration, etc., while the state’s highest income taxpayers, the top 1 percent, continue to reap the benefits from recent tax changes since 2013. Lawmakers would also likely eliminate current income tax deductions that working-class and fixed income families currently receive, in order to reduce the shortfall.
Imagine your employer gives you a raise. You’re happy, right? Until you learn later that your health benefits are costing you more than before. Until you find out that your 401K is no longer funded or your pension will be reduced. So did your employer really give you a raise or just shift the burden of expenses to you?
Lawmakers will also continue to underfund schools, roads, public health and parks. They will have to push greater responsibility to local governments for funding — resulting in higher property taxes. So did you really get a tax cut?
In addition, fewer dollars will be available to make critical, transformative investments in our state, from our sagging educational system to our crumbling roads and bridges.
And what about the unknown future? There’s no way we can predict what federal funding North Carolina will receive. As our population and needs continue to grow, another Hurricane Florence could happen at any time. That’s why it doesn’t make sense to make a permanent change in our state constitution that will tie the hands of lawmakers in the future.
Understand the facts. Don’t be hoodwinked by irrational GOP promises. Better safe than sorry! Vote safe. Vote smart. Vote NO on the constitutional amendment to cap the state income tax rate.

Judith Luna Meyer