Wake County mayors and at least one county commissioner would like to see a small bump in the local sales tax to pay teachers more.
While the issue of teacher pay has certainly been a hot-button issue this year – and it should be – we worry that paying for it on the back of a regressive tax like the sales tax would do more harm that good.
Regressive taxes hit low-income taypayers harder than higher-income taxpayers. A two-income family with no children could withstand that tax increase better than a single-parent taxpayer making minimum wage while trying to raise a child.
But the tax would apply to both equally.
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The imposition of an additional tax at the county level also creates a system of haves and have-nots within the state.
While taxpayers in Wake or Mecklenburg might be able to manage that tax increase, taxpayers in Jones or Currituck County might not, which means voters there wouldn’t likely support a local sales tax increase in those communities. The result would be that the gap between rich and poor counties would only grow.
Paying teachers has long been a state function. Local supplements have gone a long way toward separating the quality of teachers in different parts of the state. Taxing people more to exacerbate that trend, doesn’t serve the larger good.