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Why All U.S. States Should Eliminate The Income Tax

This article originally appeared in Forbes Magazine.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman, and Kansas Governor Sam Brownback have all called for their states to eliminate their income tax and replace it with a sales tax over the past week. They were joined yesterday morning by North Carolina, where the Senate President Pro Tempore, Phil Berger, confirmed the legislature and the Governor, Pat McCrory, would pursue serious tax reform this session. Indeed, a senate proposal being crafted into legislation includes a repeal of North Carolina’s personal and corporate income taxes along with an expanded sales tax.

If North Carolina, Louisiana, and Nebraska are successful in eliminating state income taxes, they could provide the momentum for a nationwide trend.

Fortunately, there’s already a detailed description of how this move will benefit the Tar Heel State’s citizens.

The big problem that any tax code needs to address is to not impede economic growth and the resulting employment a robust economy brings. For North Carolina, this isn’t an academic question: Our unemployment rate is at a staggering 9.2 percent, the fifth-highest rate in the country.

Wallet-002 A study published by the Raleigh-based John W. Pope Civitas Institute estimates that North Carolina would have gained an additional 217 thousand to 378 thousand jobs over the past decade under this proposal. That would put a tremendous dent in that 9.2 percent unemployment rate.

And if we eliminate the state’s income taxes now, North Carolinians would immediately see larger paychecks. The median North Carolina household currently pays about $2,100 in state income taxes. Repealing the state income tax burden would empower Tar Heel State residents by allowing them to keep more of what they earn.

Currently, North Carolina’s income tax rate tops out at 7.75 percent, by far the highest in the region. We also have the region’s highest corporate tax rate. The overall effect of such high taxes has been to increase our tax burden to the 17th highest in the nation. After a two-decade period where our incomes increased at the 4th-fastest rate in the country, we’ve fallen dramatically to the 26th-fastest rate over the last decade.

We can do better. The Civitas report evaluates the economic benefits from eliminating the personal income tax, the corporate income tax, and the franchise tax, all of which penalize businesses and hinder job creation. In place of the old taxes, the reform calls for a new consumption-based tax system, largely via expanding and slightly increasing the state sales tax.

The findings of this study show the proposal is a recipe for economic growth and more jobs. The Civitas study shows that such consumption-based tax reform can increase North Carolina’s average annual rate of personal income growth by 0.38 percent to 0.66 percent. It also shows that states without a personal income tax have average annual growth rates 0.5 percent higher than other states, while states without corporate income taxes average a full percentage point higher each year.

But what do those figures really mean? If a consumption-based tax reform like this had been passed in 2000, North Carolina would be an entirely different place. In dollar terms, total personal income would have been between $14.4 billion and $25.0 billion higher, a 4 to 7 percent increase over the state’s actual 2011 total personal income. This is an additional $1,500 to $2,600 in income per worker.

A bold consumption-based tax reform would also make North Carolina an example for the rest of the country. In Washington and in some state capitols around the nation, the current debate is between harsh austerity, bigger deficits, higher taxes, or some awkward combination of all of these options.

But this doesn’t have to be the debate any longer. North Carolina, Louisiana, and Nebraska should take the initiative and prove that there is a better way for both the state’s budget and citizens’ wallets. Eliminating the income tax is the best place to start.

Francis DeLuca is the President of the John W. Pope Civitas Institute.

This article was posted in Budget & Taxes by Francis De Luca on January 22, 2013 at 10:58 AM.

© 2011 The Civitas Institute. Visit us on the web at www.nccivitas.org.
This article can be found at http://www.nccivitas.org/2013/all-states-should-eliminate-the-income-tax/

Comments on this article

  • 1

    Judy Jackson
    Judy Jackson Jan 23, 2013 at 8:52

    I agree we should do away with the income tax and replace it with a sales tax

  • 2

    josh bardin
    josh bardin Jan 23, 2013 at 9:02

    here is a real life scenario from someone whose experienced both sides of this tax issue- me. I transferred to NC from TN in 2011 after my employer closed the plant there. I still make the same blue collar income of about $1000 per wk before taxes. I spend around $150 per wk at stores excluding fuel cost. TN has zero income tax and roughly 8.75% sales tax so my wkly tax cost was only about $13. NC charges me about $70 per wk income tax AND sales tax is about $10 – thats $80 total NC tax cost. Eliminating income tax would put over $250 more in my shallow pockets each month. Now, do the math for a guy making only $400 per wk and his tax cost is still much lower with no income tax too. THATS how you “climb into the middle class” folks. by the way, TN gas tax is also lower and TN had a budget surplus last year. Hmmm…

  • 3

    Renee Nicols
    Renee Nicols Jan 23, 2013 at 9:17

    Interesting article. I just want to know if this consumption tax, also applies to internet sales? Since so many companies do the bulk of their biz via the net, that could also effect jobs.

  • 4

    Thom Allen
    Thom Allen Jan 23, 2013 at 9:48

    Replacing the income tax with an increased and expanded sales tax will certainly get all those old people trying to live on social security. Social security income is exempted for income taxes in NC. Thus, people living on social security will see a significant increase in their tax load. Why not eliminate the income tax and reduce spending to match the lost of income. A good place to start is with the state church, a.k.a. public schools, a.k.a. public indoctrinating centers.

  • 5

    Steve
    Steve Jan 29, 2013 at 13:09

    A consumption tax will adversely affect those living on Social Security and Roth IRA’s. Money in these accounts would now be depleted faster by a higher consumption tax.

  • 6

    Francis De Luca
    Francis De Luca Jan 29, 2013 at 14:07

    Steve – If you look at the plan the overall rate on sales tax is projected to be just slightly higher than the rate was 2 years ago. Most of the increased revenue comes from applying it services. Your statement assumes that those who saved in a Roth have NO other tax deferred savings.

    No matter what type of tax reform is done, except for just reducing spending and rates, there will always be someone who is less advantaged and some who are more advantaged.

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