Though the two candidates competing to represent District 26 have diverging views on taxes, both of them agree on one central theme: change.
According to Republican Representative Leo Daughtry, “Our tax code is antiquated.” He says the current tax model was created at a time when the state had a strong manufacturing economy, and now North Carolina is more of a service-based economy.
“The tax burden has fallen on too few,” Daughtry said. One of his tax priorities is to spread the cost of taxes. The way the current system works, at the county level, government relies on landowners and sales tax to meet the needs of the public. At the state level, income and sales taxes and fees are supposed to meet the needs of the public.
“That model is becoming outdated,” Daughtry said.
Part of his tax plan includes analyzing the current structure that caps sales tax on luxury items. “We need to revisit that and make sure that these loopholes or special laws aren’t being taken advantage of.” Besides luxury items, Daughtry said sales tax on farm equipment may need to change because it is also capped.
His tax plan includes rethinking the sales tax for online businesses.
“It’s not fair for someone who owns a business in Clayton to pay a sales tax and a business owner in New York to send products down here to sell and not pay sales tax,” Daughtry said.
Democratic challenger Jenifer Bubenik believes adjusting the sales tax is not an ideal solution to address the state’s budget. As for online businesses, she said her experience working at the U.S. Senate, where worked with interstate commerce and saw the the struggle to tax states in online sales. “It’s very difficult to track people who are on the Internet because they can come up with different online addresses, different e-mails... it’s not feasible,” Bubenik said. She believes people are smarter than legislators think.
Bubenik does not have a specific plan for overhauling taxes. To her, the priority is to make sure incentives are targeted to North Carolina companies or North Carolina workers.
“It’s not all about tax incentives,” Bubenik said. “If we have a good education system, and have a great place to live, people don’t need tax incentives to come here.”
She emphasized that improving education is her main goal because she feels it is at the core of all of the other issues that the state encounters.
Bubenik, who runs a small business in Clayton, said she would like to see more money go to small businesses that are already here. She cited ESA Renewables as a local example of the kind of small businesses that she would like to support.
“I don’t want to just give money to companies that employ people out of state then bring those employs here,” Bubenik said. “I want to make sure new jobs go to current North Carolina residents.”