Candidates for governor back nonprofit tax benefits

Anita Brown-Graham
Anita Brown-Graham

Elizabeth Floyd

RALEIGH, N.C. – Six candidates for governor say they support adjustments to the state tax code to benefit nonprofits.

At a March 27 policy forum for nonprofit professionals, four Republican candidates and two Democratic candidates said they support making all organizations that are tax-exempt under federal law automatically exempt from North Carolina property and sales taxes.

The candidates also said they support protecting the non-itemizer tax credit, which offers a tax break for charitable contributions to the 70 percent of North Carolina taxpayers who do not itemize.

More than 260 people attended the annual public-policy forum, hosted by the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits at the Brownstone Hotel in Raleigh.

Speakers included two state legislators, local nonprofit executive directors and several media professionals, all of whom addressed advocacy involving North Carolina nonprofits.

The gubernatorial candidates spoke in two panels moderated by Anita Brown-Graham, director of the Institute for Emerging Issues at N.C. State University and a trustee of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation in Winston-Salem.

The first panel included Republicans Bill Graham, Pat McCrory, Bob Orr and Fred Smith, and the second panel included Democrats Richard Moore and Dennis Nielsen.

All cited extensive experience with nonprofits, whether through board work and fundraising or having founded their own organization.

The candidates generally supported several adjustments to the state tax code that would benefit nonprofits.

All reacted equally favorably to a proposal to bring in line with federal standards the state’s small-business tax-deduction policy, which also affects nonprofits.

Currently, businesses can deduct as much as 10 percent of their federal taxable income for charitable donations and spread this out over a period of up to five years.

North Carolina’s tax code limits those deductions to only five percent over the course of one year.

Graham also said he would like to see matching funds provided by local government for charitable contributions listed on tax filings.

And he suggested that all North Carolina businesses should be strongly encouraged to adopt a local nonprofit, adding that, if elected, he and his wife would like to personally help a new nonprofit each month gather money and support for its cause.

The candidates offered generally disapproving remarks when asked about recent cases where elected officials have misused nonprofits for personal gain.

“I think we need to run a hard line on board membership” among elected officials, said Orr. “Frankly, I see a lot of elected officials going on as board members simply because they are elected officials, and I’m not sure that’s a particularly good idea.”

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