- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 7, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina Democrats are trying to link Gov. Pat McCrory and his legislative allies to the pain people filing state income tax returns may feel as the April 15 deadline approaches.

Party Chairwoman Patsy Keever and some Democratic legislators held a news conference Tuesday at party headquarters in Raleigh. They blame McCrory for several tax changes they argue have hurt middle-class people and benefited the wealthy and corporations more.

“Gov. McCrory and his allies at the legislature are not being straightforward with the citizens of North Carolina,” said Sen. Mike Woodard, D-Durham. “People feel duped by this governor and the legislature.”

It’s the first deadline for most filers under new rules approved by the legislature and signed by McCrory in 2013. The changes have resulted in less tax being taken out of worker paychecks, but they’re also expected to generate smaller 2014 tax refunds and higher final payments for more filers.

Republicans like McCrory and lawmakers counter that most people are benefiting from the tax overhaul law, either by having more money in the wallets as income tax rates fell or through jobs created thanks to an improved business environment. The measure increased standard deductions, thus raising the threshold before income earners must pay taxes.

McCrory’s office referred questions to the state Republican Party, where Executive Director Todd Poole praised the GOP tax policy McCrory signed and accused Democrats of using old talking points.

The Democrats want “to bring North Carolina back to the high-tax, big government system that has failed North Carolina in the past,” Poole said.

Some Republicans at the legislature, however, have been concerned about elements in the 2013 tax changes. Older taxpayers have complained to them that they’re paying more this year because the state’s deduction for medical expenses has been eliminated. A bill that would bring back the deduction has cleared one House committee.

Democrats at the news conference also criticized a measure signed by McCrory last week that lowered the gasoline tax by 1.5 cents per gallon. The decrease, however, is much smaller than it would have been had the most recent gas tax formula been left undisturbed. But the measure split Democrats, as several joined most GOP lawmakers in approving the bill.

Democrats are still unhappy Republicans decided to let the state’s earned income tax credit, which benefited the working poor, expire in 2013.

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