Paliga: N.C. tax changes take toll on women, 4/18/14, Fayetteville Observer

If you dressed a wolf in sheep’s clothing, would you then believe it to be a sheep? Gov. Pat McCrory and the leadership of the General Assembly hope you will when it comes to their new tax plan.

The governor used Tax Day to tout his new tax plan. To the disadvantage of the greater public good, his remarks were full of mistruths. Case in point: He claimed that the state’s lower unemployment rate is one sign that we’re already seeing the benefits and positive results of tax “reform” efforts.

Economists say the decline in the unemployment rate is being driven by a shrinking labor force, and is not due to genuine job creation. In fact, the promised economic benefits from the income tax cuts are not likely to materialize. We only have to look to Kansas, which pursued a similar strategy that has to date resulted in slower job and income growth than the nation.

Gov. McCrory also said that everyone is going to have a little more money in their pockets. He made these claims last year only to reverse them soon afterward. The N.C. Budget and Tax Center estimates that the tax changes amount to a tax shift in which the bottom 80 percent of taxpayers will pay more on average. The bottom 95 percent of senior taxpayers will pay more, as well. Did you know pensions will be taxed starting in 2014? In addition, more than 900,000 individuals and families are losing North Carolina’s Earned Income Tax Credit starting with 2014 taxes. North Carolina is the only state to repeal the EITC.

If I didn’t know any better, his remarks would have led me to believe that women and families are better off under the new system. However, as the president of NC NOW, I hear from women daily. I know the full story and won’t be fooled. The tax changes amount to a tax shift that hurts women, families and seniors. Mistruths won’t change that – only better policy choices will. It’s time to reinstate the state Earned Income Tax Credit and reclaim some of the $1.4 billion in tax cuts McCrory and the General Assembly gave to wealthy people and profitable corporations and use the money for our hardworking teachers (mostly women), schools and displaced homemaker programs, among other things. North Carolina needs to pursue real tax reform in a way that strengthens our economy, instead of holding it back. State lawmakers could fix the devastating tax changes (passed last year) during the short session, which begins in May.

Gailya Paliga is president of the North Carolina branch of the National Organization for Women.

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