Elon Law forum explores recent and future changes in North Carolina tax law
On October 5, North Carolina Senator Daniel Clodfelter spoke at Elon Law about the need to modernize the state's tax code. His presentation was part of a forum exploring recent actions and future plans of the N.C. General Assembly.
The forum, presented by the Greensboro Bar Association, addressed 2009 legislation enacted by the General Assembly as well as tax and business issues that were tabled for future consideration.
Other presenters at the forum included Elon Law professor and tax law expert Andrew Haile, Jason Cannon, Vice President for Governmental Affairs with The Greensboro Partnership, and Kim Crouch, Director of Governmental Affairs for the North Carolina Bar Association. Edward C. Winslow, III, Managing Partner of Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard, LLP, introduced the forum.
Clodfelter addressed chronic problems in the state's current tax code at the forum, saying that the revenue system lacked stability, sufficiency in light of demographic trends, simplicity, and neutrality.
"Instability is the biggest problem," Clodfelter said. "The state revenue system is like a rollercoaster. It swings very high and very low. It is very, very volatile, and far more volatile than the federal tax system. In good cycles we have far more money than we should have and in bad cycles we have far less money than we need in order to fund the central operation of government."
Haile provided a detailed review of proposals and negotiations that led up to the $19 billion budget compromise reached by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Perdue on August 5. That budget, Haile noted, included a number of changes in tax law, including a one percent increase in the sales tax, new individual and corporate income tax surcharges, increases in taxes on cigarettes, beer, wine and liquor, a tax on digital downloads, and other changes to the tax code.
Cannon reviewed annual legislative initiatives of The Greensboro Partnership, including advocacy for increased funding to support the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering. Cannon said the final budget included $1 million in new recurring funding for the joint school, bringing the new annual appropriation to $3.9 million.
Crouch highlighted fifteen new statutes important for businesses and their legal and accounting advisors. Among them, Crouch noted the Consumer Protection Act, which provides new protections against foreclosures and debt collection practices.
The audience at the forum included members of the Greensboro Bar Association, members of the Piedmont Chapter of the North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants, and Elon Law students. The event was a Continuing Legal/Professional Education forum, for which attendees had the opportunity to receive two hours of CLE or CPE credit.