Legislative leaders announce refund plan for $896.7 budget million surplus

Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain) and Sen. Phil Berger (R-Eden) in an undated file photo.

RALEIGH — North Carolina Republicans say they want to return to taxpayers much of the largest state government revenue surplus in over a decade.

Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Eden) and House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain) unveiled a proposal today that would refund taxpayers some of the money they paid in this year. At a joint press conference, the Republican leaders announced the Taxpayer Refund Act. If passed into law, taxpayers would receive a refund in the amount they paid in state taxes, up to a maximum of $125 for an individual or $250 for a couple. Most checks would be sent in mid-December.

The legislative leaders said their chambers will advance a bill that would give refunds to more than 5 million taxpayers.

Berger had previously indicated he would seek to refund part of the $896.7 million surplus to taxpayers after the state collected more than anticipated in the year ending June 30. About $660 million would be sent out, if the bill becomes law.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown (R-Onslow), prior to the bill’s announcement, touted conservative budget and tax policies that led to the surplus and called out Gov. Cooper for predicting budget shortfalls after the previous budget was passed over his veto. “After Governor Cooper’s office predicted a $600 million shortfall for this year, responsible Republican budget policies actually produced a $900 million surplus,” Brown said in his news release. “The same people who made wildly inaccurate, doom-and-gloom predictions are now telling us that Medicaid expansion won’t cost the state a dime, and they’re holding the entire budget hostage over that one issue. They have no credibility.”

“Tax revenues don’t belong to the government, they belong to the people who earned it,” said Berger. “We collected more money than was needed, so we’re giving it back.”

Moore said, “Sending taxpayer relief back home to hardworking North Carolinians is consistent with the General Assembly’s successful approach to the state budget that built the $900 million surplus and benefits families with higher take-home pay, more jobs, and a rapidly growing economy.”

“An infusion of $650 million into North Carolina’s economy would certainly be a welcome shot in the arm for North Carolina’s Retail Industry especially as we head into the fourth quarter of the year and the very important holiday season,” said Andy Ellen, President of the N.C. Retail Merchants Association, in a release from the Speaker’s Office.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.