IN FOCUS: Income taxes are a poor strategy for boosting NC's economy
Income tax cuts are a poor strategy for producing economic growth, despite the claims of North Carolina policymakers who are advocating deep cuts to the state’s income taxes. This has been amply demonstrated by experience with income tax cuts at the state and federal levels and decades of careful research that has found no link between state personal income tax levels and economic growth. Instead, income tax cuts – particularly for high income households -- contribute to rising income inequality and drain resources from schools, health care, public safety and other ingredients of a strong, durable economy.
A sound tax reform plan should ensure that low- and middle-income taxpayers don’t carry more of the tax load and that investments in schools, health and public safety can be sustained over time. Income tax cuts like those currently being considered would only make these goals harder to achieve.
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ABOUT OUR STATE ECONOMY WORK
North Carolina’s economy is not only struggling to rebuild after the Great Recession but also experiencing the effects of a longer-term economic transformation in the industries and jobs that are growing. These broader economic trends and the fiscal decisions made at the state level impact family’s economic hardship and the opportunities available in communities across the state.
Public policy can have a significant impact on North Carolina’s economy. State investments in economic development, workforce development, and job creation can open doors to opportunities for the state’s most struggling communities. However, poorly developed policies can undermine economic growth, exacerbate long-term unemployment, and rob certain groups and geographic areas of economic security.
Poverty, Inequality and the State of Opportunity – 1 in 5 North Carolinians live in poverty and many more struggle to make ends meet. Over time as the economy has grown and transformed so too has inequality and the effects on opportunity for all North Carolinians has been significant in terms of economic mobility and the vibrancy of our middle class. The Budget and Tax Center publishes regular analysis of poverty, inequality and the state of opportunity as well as analyzes proposals that would support North Carolinians struggling today and build greater opportunity for the future.
Economic and Workforce Development – North Carolina’s approach to economic development primarily involves giving millions of dollars in subsidies to already-profitable businesses, and often any new jobs these subsidies create do not benefit economically disadvantaged counties or populations. The Budget and Tax Center publishes analyses of current economic development programs and develops alternative proposals that could create widespread opportunity across the state. This requires as well a strong workforce development system that provides for career pathways in growing industries that pay living wages and it will be increasingly important for North Carolina’s community college system and university to remain affordable and innovative at supporting students young and old into the workforce.
Communities of Opportunity -- Communities across the state are dealing with the significant challenges of population growth, demographic and industry shifts and fewer public dollars to build an infrastructure of opportunity for all. The Budget and Tax Center works to analyze and develop proposals to support equitable development across the state with a particular focus on how transportation, housing and job opportunities are interconnected.
The Labor Market and Economic Growth – The functioning of North Carolina’s labor market is critical to the sound functioning of the state’s economy. The Budget and Tax Center monitors the labor market and other indicators of how the broader economy is faring with an eye to understanding the impact on individual North Carolinians. In addition, the Budget and Tax Center publishes reports on North Carolina’s unemployment insurance system and creates proposals on how North Carolina can better support unemployed workers and increase access to quality jobs.