North Carolina’s state education boss wants to exempt teachers from income tax

North Carolina legislators probably won’t act on a proposal by the elected supervisor of the state’s public school system to exempt teachers from the burden of personal income taxes.

June Atkinson, North Carolina’s superintendent of public instruction, recommended the unusual tax policy on Monday, reports The Charlotte Observer. The Democrat indicated that she would not have advocated such a teacher tax cut if teachers would instead receive a salary increase next year.

North Carolina’s Republican governor, Pat McCrory, had asked for a one-percent raise for teachers statewide. However, the budgets which have ultimately materialized in both legislative chambers do not include the request.

Atkinson reasoned that a tax exemption for teachers would be a good way to increase take-home pay in the absence of raises, according to local CBS affiliate WRAL.

Atkinson guesstimated that allowing teachers to dodge state income taxes would cost The Tar Heel State roughly $300 million. The chief fiscal officer in her department calculated a more conservative cost of about $250 million.

The increase would make net salaries for North Carolina teachers more competitive with teacher salaries in other states across the region.

“Let’s keep our competent teachers in North Carolina classrooms. Let’s position North Carolina to be a more attractive state for new teachers. Exempt them from paying personal state income taxes,” Atkinson wrote in a statement.

Harnett County Republican Rep. David Lewis, who helped craft his chamber’s tax plan, doesn’t think Atkinson’s idea is a good one.

“I don’t think that particular one is as well thought out as it should have been,” he told The Observer.

Lewis suggested that tax-exempt status for teachers could cause private school teachers, home-schooling parents and a throng of people in various other situations to argue that they, too, should be liberated from the burden of state taxes.

Figures from WRAL show that salaries for North Carolina’s teachers rank 46th nationally.

Bill Cobey, the state’s board of education chairman and a Republican, has said that boosting teacher compensation is among his main goals.

The state’s starting salary for teachers is $30,800 a year, notes The Observer. It typically takes years of experience for teachers who don’t hold advanced degrees to start earning more than $40,000 annually.

A number of school districts statewide pay teachers in addition to the relatively low wages paid by the state.

According to the website, the marginal tax rate in North Carolina for an individual making a salary between $12,750 and $60,000 is 7.0 percent. The rate for a married couple in the same income bracket is slightly higher.

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