by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Eight of North Carolina’s largest cities now have annual local tax-and-fee burdens topping $2,000 per person. Charlotte regains its No. 1 statewide ranking among the largest cities, with a local government bill of $2,379 per person. That’s according to a new John Locke Foundation report.
Meanwhile, the average North Carolinian paid 4.28 percent of his personal income to fund city and county government in the 2012 budget year, the latest year with available data. That figure is down slightly from 4.32 percent in 2011.
“The typical resident of the median county in North Carolina paid $1,277 in taxes and fees to county and municipal governments in the 2011 budget year,” said report author Michael Lowrey, a JLF Economics and Regulatory Policy Analyst. “That’s up from an inflation-adjusted figure of $1,267 in 2011. But the average North Carolinian actually pays more since many of the state’s more populous counties also have above-average local tax and fee burdens.”
A family of four in the median county would face an average tax-and-fee burden of $5,107. “That’s a significant burden, especially given the high levels of state and federal taxation, along with the still-elevated unemployment levels present in 2012,” Lowrey said.
Local government collected $15.7 billion in property, sales, and other taxes and fees during the budget year that stretched from July 2011 through June 2012, Lowrey reports. “Local government revenues increased by roughly $400 million in that budget year,” he said. “This is not to say that all revenue sources increased. Sales tax revenues grew by $150 million, or 7.5 percent, while property tax receipts increased by $250 million, or 3 percent. Water department revenues and other tax and fee income were essentially flat.”
Among North Carolina’s largest cities, Charlotte ($2,379 per person) jumped two spots to reclaim the No. 1 ranking for largest local government tax-and-fee burden. Before a one-year drop from the top spot, the Queen City had ranked No. 1 for a decade.
Mooresville dropped from the top spot to No. 2 in 2012, while Chapel Hill, Wilmington, and Monroe rounded out the top five. Along with those cities, Durham, Asheville, and Cornelius all had local tax-and-fee burdens of at least $2,000 per person.
Among the list of 35 ranked municipalities with at least 25,000 residents, Jacksonville ($1,241 per person), Thomasville, Indian Trail, Fayetteville, and Asheboro had the lowest local government tax-and-fee burdens.