Political Notebook: N.C. taxpayers may see additional refund with latest legislative proposal

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 2, 2019

With support from Rowan County’s lone state senator, the N.C. Senate passed a bill last week that would provide a refund to taxpayers.

The Taxpayer Refund Act, if made into law, would give every taxpayer in the state a refund if he payed state taxes. The refund would be capped at $125 for individuals and $250 for a couple.

“Tax revenues don’t belong to the government; they belong to the people who earned it,” Senate Leader Phil Berger said. “Refunding up to $250 means a lot to a family that’s living paycheck to paycheck. We collected more money than was needed, so we’re giving it back.”

The Senate passed House Bill 74 on a vote of 30-16, mostly along partisan lines, last Tuesday. Sen. Carl Ford, R-33, voted in favor of it. 

The initial bill would authorize the state Department of Public Instruction to carry forward funding to develop statewide school safety initiatives, including interagency collaboration. That bill was passed by the House unanimously.

“Sending taxpayer relief back home to hardworking North Carolinians is consistent with the General Assembly’s successful approach to the state budget that built the $900 million surplus and benefits families with higher take-home pay, more jobs, and a rapidly growing economy,” House Speaker Tim Moore said.

Ford said he expects the House to pass the bill and is eager to see what action Gov. Roy Cooper takes, whether signing it into law or vetoing it.

According to Berger, more than 90% of taxpayers would receive the maximum payout.

The Taxpayer Refund Act instructs the N.C. Department of Revenue to issue checks as soon as possible. The department must mail checks by Dec. 15 for those who filed tax returns before Aug. 1. The department must mail checks by Feb. 1 for those who filed between Aug. 1 and Oct. 1.

The financial impact on the state would be a net loss of $681.1 million.

The conservative Civitas Action supports passage of the bill, calling the justification “simple and straightforward.”

“Counting administrative costs, the refund program would use approximately $663 million or almost three-quarters of the revenue surplus and distribute it to 5.1 million taxpayers,” the group stated. “The refunds will not jeopardize commitments already made in the state budget for schools, salary increases, school construction or water and sewer infrastructure.” 

The N.C. Retail Merchants Association supports the refund as well.

“An infusion of $650 million into North Carolina’s economy would certainly be a welcome shot in the arm for North Carolina’s retail industry, especially as we head into the fourth quarter of the year and the very important holiday season,” said Andy Ellen, the association’s president.