NC GOP flip-flops on transfer tax

Now that they hold the purse strings, it's all of a sudden a good idea:

"The vernacular being used is to call it a conveyance fee," Andrea Bushnell, NCAR executive vice president, wrote in a recent note to members. "Don't be fooled -- it is still a transfer tax on the sale of real property! This is the same tax that we fought hard in 2007 and was defeated 24 times on 24 local ballots."

That's what you get for helping to elect a political party that needs to be bottle-fed its legislation by ALEC and Art Pope's stable of confused faux-Libertarians. Methinks those $4,000 campaign contributions are about to dry up...

Is Burr really this tone deaf?

Talk about playing to special interests. The real estate industry has helped knock America to its economic knees. And Burr has what to say?

Found on Twitter.

The other North Carolina government

I realize that poking fun at fringe groups is a weakness of mine; a pointless self-indulgence, as it were. But sometimes I can't help myself:

In 1997, John Ainsworth, along with several others, legally re-established the de jure (lawful) state of North Carolina. The North-Carolina American Republic, or NCAR, has been in operation since that time and convenes monthly. The basis of this re-establishment is rooted in a legal argument that is supported by irrefutable historical evidence which was uncovered by Ainsworth as a result of over 19 years of study. Armed with this knowledge, lawful state citizens have taken the matter to court - demanding that the current state of North Carolina prove its lawfulness.

Realtors win again, antitrust violations ignored

Instead of action, the SBOE delivers a toothless tongue-lashing:

At issue Thursday was a narrower question: whether the N.C. Association of Realtors violated state statutes in requiring its members to pay an assessment to support the association's campaigns in 24 counties to fight local real estate transfer tax hikes. An agent had objected to paying the assessment in addition to her regular dues to the association, arguing that it forced her to contribute against her will. She said she was forced to do so in order to keep her access to the association's multiple listing service. She also argued that she had difficulty finding out what the association was spending on the local campaigns.

The board found itself in an uncomfortable position. As board chair and Buncombe County lawyer Larry Leake put it, the N.C. Association of Realtors committed a "moral wrong" by requiring members who needed access to multiple listings to, in effect, pay for referenda campaigns. But he said there was no legal peg the board could use to find that the association had violated the law.

Tick, tick, tick

It's not surprising that membership in the over-reaching, arrogant North Carolina Association of Realtors is dropping like flies. Perhaps it's just the economy. Perhaps the Ticks have lost touch with what's important to their members. Or perhaps it's because the leadership at NCAR may not have the integrity of a gnat. Pardon the strained metaphors.

Builders Make Great Case For Transfer Tax

BubbleIt is generally accepted that the housing bubble precipitated the current recession. Easy access to money and low interest rates fueled housing inflation that made housing speculation profitable without growth in the underlying economy. In 2007 the Chief Executive of the National Association of Homebuilders acknowledged that overbuilding during the boom years was a factor in the housing meltdown.

That same year NC Realtors and Homebuilders fought tooth and nail at the Legislature to prevent counties from having a transfer tax option to pay for the infrastructure demanded by housing growth. Although unsuccessful at the Legislature in 2007 they have since spent millions to defeat transfer tax proposals at the polls in local referendums.

Proponents of the transfer tax argue that it relieves some of the burden of property tax by deferring it until a sale when cash flow is available, especially for existing homeowners on fixed incomes with over-inflated home values. Realtors and Homebuilders argued against it saying "Fight the Home Tax - It's a Bad Idea". Now faced with unsold inventories of speculatively built houses NC Homebuilders have turned to the Legislature for relief from "some of the burden of property tax by deferring it until a sale when cash flow is available."

House Bill 852, "Defer Tax on Builders' Inventory", has sailed quietly through the House, 106 votes to 8, and through committees, and is calendered for a Senate vote Wednesday July 8th, with little opposition expected. In fiscal years 2010-11 and 2011-12 combined this bill is projected to have a negative effect on county and municipal revenues of $40-$45 million.

An open letter to North Carolina's Realtors

FEC Fined Realtors $78,000 for Burr Campaigning

In a little noticed action in 2007 the National Association of Realtors was fined $78,000 by the Federal Election Commission for violations of election law including $282,500 spent on mailings and advertisements expressly advocating the election of Richard Burr for Senate in 2004. The FEC found that the National Association of Realtors 527 Fund failed to register and file disclosure reports as a Federal political committee and accepted contributions in violation of Federal limits and source prohibitions. In total the NAR 527 Fund spent $2.8 million advocating the election of 9 federal candidates in 2004 including Richard Burr, their favorite son Johnny Isakson, a Georgia realtor, and the disgraced Rick Renzi.

The campaigning for Richard Burr spurred the complaint by one North Carolina man, Thomas Strini, of Mint Hill, and subsequent enforcement action by the FEC.

Updated: Two Time Losers

Losers of the week: The NC Senate and the NC Association of Realtors

The NC Senate is rapidly becoming indistinguishable from Rodney Dangerfield in the respect department. First Mike Easley slams the chamber for being in the pocket of special interests, and so does the Wilmington Star on its editorial page.

Now you know who most North Carolina state senators represent. It isn't property taxpayers. If it were, a majority of the Honorables would let local voters decide whether to increase a tiny one-time tax on land sales to pay for the schools, sewers, water systems, law enforcement and other basic services that growth requires.

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