Jul 142016

imageby Marsha Walpole

If you’ve gotten the oil in your car changed recently, you’ve probably found that it costs more than you expected. That’s because, starting March 1, services like oil changes and car repairs became subject to a new sales tax in North Carolina. The State Legislature upped our taxes not only on car repairs and oil changes, but also on putting down new carpet or many other home repairs; getting your watch or shoes fixed; or paying an electrician to work on faulty wiring or a plumber to unclog your pipes.

Republican lawmakers trumpet the fact that they are going to lower your taxes. And they did lower some personal and corporate tax rates. But the $400 million loss in revenues from those tax cuts had to be made up somewhere — money for our public schools and roads has to come from somewhere — so they slapped new taxes on services that you use every day.

It almost seems fair, doesn’t it? If you use something, you should pay a tax on it. The problem is, sales taxes are inherently regressive; that is, poor and middle class folks pay a larger percentage of their income in sales tax than does a person that is better off. If you are making $20,000 per year, paying a few extra bucks is going to hurt more than if you are making $200,000.

Republican NC lawmakers would have you believe that their income tax cuts are going to offset those extra few bucks you pay in sales tax. But by most analyses, that $20,000 a year working person is going to end up paying more in total tax while the $200,000 a year guy pays about $420 less. And even if you are going to get a tax break, you won’t actually see it until you file your taxes in 2018 — two years after the sales tax on services came into effect.

Car repair taxes are an especially hard pill to swallow, since low income people are more likely to drive older cars that need repair. Mobile and modular home installation is now taxed too, and guess who is more likely to live in a mobile or modular home?

Lest you think you can escape this new Republican tax scheme when you die, tombstone installation is also now taxed. And Lord help you if you are a small business person, because now you have something new to do every month…file your sales tax. That’s if you can figure out if you are one of the businesses that has to charge the tax in the first place — the rules are so murky, CPA’s are having a hard time deciphering them. (Don’t worry, you don’t have to pay sales tax on your accounting bill…yet.)

There is a solution to this madness. We can elect legislators who have our best interests at heart.

Vote Roy Cooper for Governor, Sue Counts for State House, and Art Sherwood for State Senate. They’ll always have our backs!

Marsha Walpole and her husband run a small business and pay these new taxes in Sugar Grove.

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