Taxes as a Political Football

Election season is upon us and taxes always come up as a big point of debate.  Everyone has their different view- lower rates, reduce credits/deductions, or switch to a flat tax.  Most politicians would never come out with raising rates as a solution because it is political suicide.

The fact of the matter is that the US tax system is convoluted and has been built upon years and years on unrelated changes, so changes are difficult.  I don’t want to call our tax system a house of cards but it is relatively close.  Tax law changes also get mixed together with ideas of equality, social agendas, and America’s long-standing belief in free enterprise and capitalism.  What’s the correct answer, who knows?

One the hottest local issues in the Wilmington, NC area has been on North Carolina’s decision not to extend the Film Tax Credits.  Instead, the program has been replaced with a grant program with much lower dollar benefits available to the films and TV shows.  The film industry provides trickle down money to caterers, construction workers, and numerous other service professionals.  Losing or seeing a large reduction in incentives to the film industry will deeply affect our local economy and is one of the reasons you see many Wilmington politicians pleading and fighting to keep some sort of program in place.

Some people will ideologically argue that no industries should receive incentives over others.  That is easier said than done- if other states or countries are offering incentives your economy will be at a huge disadvantage if you aren’t offering the same.  On the other hand, if one industry or company receives incentives, why shouldn’t another?