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Archive for January 9th, 2013

U.S. Taxpayers Spend 6 Billion Hours Complying With Tax Laws

The federal tax code is now so onerous that it takes 6 billion hours to comply.

The federal Taxpayer Advocate ranks complexity as the No. 1 problem facing the tax system and offers an eye-opening estimate of Americans’ cost of complying – $168 billion in 2010, or about 15% of total income-tax receipts.

In her 2012 annual report to Congress, Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson says it takes U.S. taxpayers more than 6.1 billion hours to complete all the filings required by the tax system, making tax compliance “one of the largest industries in the United States.” That is the equivalent of more than 3 million full-time employees.

Here in North Carolina, the Republican-led General Assembly and Gov. Pat McCrory realize that complexity is one of the problems with the North Carolina tax code, along with its biases, and they appear ready to tackle it. Here’s a some excellent information for them to consider in reforming the system, courtesy of JLF’s John Hood.

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School Board Member Worried By Prospect Of More Public Charter Schools In Durham

The 161 letters of intent for new public charter schools received by the state last week include 10 in Durham County. What’s more, there is a virtual school Durham kids could choose as well. And that has Durham school board member Natalie Beyer worried, according to the Herald-Sun.

“To me, it comes to a question of what our vision for all our local schools is, and to me this feels very chaotic,” said Beyer, a member of the Durham Public Schools Board of Education. “If the state board granted 10 additional charters to join the 10 already promised here, we’d be closing doors of existing schools.”

First, charter schools ARE public schools. They are simply another option for parents to choose. They are tuition-free and there are waiting lists for seats in existing schools around the state, which means parents are looking for choices that are a better fit for their children.

Second, this should not worry or scare any board member. They should be delighted to see parents getting actively involved in education.

Third, board members should wonder what it is about existing traditional public schools that are not meeting the needs of some of the kids they’re responsible for preparing to enter adult life as productive citizens with marketable skills.

Clearly, traditional schools work for many parents and they want to stay at these schools. That’s fine. I support their right to choose what’s best for them. But what about those parents and kids whose needs aren’t being met? Their needs shouldn’t be pushed aside because board members don’t like the idea of competition and/or are focused more on the system than on individual children.

It is my hope that Ms. Beyer has a change of heart and welcomes the diversity of public charters that are looking to call Durham County home and serve the kids in the area. In March, we will find out which of the schools take the next step and make a full application for a public charter.

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Wondering Why The Mike Easley Campaign Doesn’t Have To Pay The $94,665 Fine?

Yesterday I blogged about former Gov. Mike Easley filing to get his law license back following his guilty plea to a felony related to a campaign finance violation over unreported flights. Easley paid the $1,000 fine imposed on him. His campaign, however, has not paid the remaining $94,665 of the $100,000 fine imposed on it by the state Board of Elections. The News & Observer reported yesterday that the campaign has no intention of paying the $94K. Carolina Journal Managing Editor Rick Henderson reminded me why that’s the case, detailed last year by Don Carrington.

After five days of public hearings in October 2009, the Board of Elections fined the Easley campaign committee $100,000 for failure to report aircraft travel donated by Campbell. The board also asked the Wake County District Attorney’s Office to investigate the possibility that the former governor and others might have violated other laws. ?

A campaign finance report showed that Easley’s campaign committee had $427,706 in cash when he left office in January 2009. Subsequent reports show the committee paid most of that to attorneys.

In March 2010, Easley Committee attorney John Wallace sent a check for $5,335 to the Board of Elections toward the committee’s $100,000 fine. Wallace told the board that the committee had no more funds and it had closed its bank accounts. State law doesn’t make candidates personally responsible for campaign committee fines.

After lengthy state and federal investigations, in November 2010 Easley pleaded guilty in Wake County to a felony campaign finance violation involving the filing of a false report. He was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine but received no active prison time. 


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