Letter: Honor our service

Published 9:14 pm Wednesday, September 20, 2017

We are part of your community. We served in the military, federal, state or local government. We are retired teachers, firefighters, police, veterans and others you see daily. And when it comes to taxation, we are treated very differently.

In North Carolina, government retirement income is not taxed if you had five or more years of service as of August 1989. For many, this is a welcome and hard-earned benefit for their years of service. But others literally pay the price for simply having started their career later.

This impacts thousands of retirees — current and future military, federal, state and local government employees whose service is every bit as valuable as that of folks who got their five years in before August 1989.

This unequal tax policy puts our state at a disadvantage. As federal retirees look to move away from high-cost regions like Washington, D.C., a key factor is tax policies. Neighboring states like Tennessee and South Carolina already give tax breaks to government retirees. Meanwhile North Carolina only does so for a minority of our government retirees.

Lastly, there’s the economic argument. Retirees moving to or staying in our state spend money, build homes and contribute to the economy. Over 10 years, the ratio of benefits to costs is 2.5 to 1, a significant offset to the diminished income tax revenue.

If you are a government retiree this issue impacts, or a citizen who believes we should honor their service and treat government retirees equitably, there’s something you can do. The 4th Branch is a coalition representing these military, federal, state and local public-service retirees. And the 4th Branch is fighting to get our state legislature to right this inequity.

Write to your legislative representatives or visit the 4th Branch website (engage.4thbranchnc.org) for more information.

— David Phillips