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Stories and features about North Carolina candidates, voters, and the politics of the 2014 mid-term elections. Polls are open across N.C. until 7:30 p.m. on election day, November 4.

NC House Members May Consider Lowering Local Business Tax, Classifying E-Cigs As Non Tobacco

A Carlie C's grocery store parking lot
Charlie C's

Some North Carolina lawmakers want to limit a tax cities can charge local businesses.

State lawmakers have been trying to resolve this for more than 10 years: A tax that businesses have to pay cities to set up shop there.

On Thursday, a committee sent a bill to the House of Representatives limiting the tax to $100.

But some cities say that cuts an important source of revenue. Charlotte, for instance, would lose more than $8 million.

On the other hand, businesses such as grocery stores say the tax targets them unfairly and is unpredictable from one city to the next.

As the Associated Press explains it:

Lawmakers have studied for years the jumble of local taxes, which hurts economic development within some cities, said Rep. Julia Howard, R-Davie, the finance committee's senior chairwoman. It's time to fix the problem, she said. "If you just want to keep kicking the can on down the road, we can do that — that's the easiest thing to do," Howard said.

This bill examines at least 10 more taxes. It classifies e-cigarettes as non-tobacco products and taxes them at five cents per milliliter, as opposed to 45-cents per pack of regular cigarettes.

Manufacturers say e-cigarettes are a tobacco derivative, but not tobacco. The Food and Drug Administration has not classified this new industry.

"My concern is, is this a move from the industry to get in before they’re regulated and get in at 5 cents? And also, having this particular product, is it a derivative of tobacco?" asked Rep. Becky Carney, D-Mecklenberg County, after the bill was approved. "We need to have that information provided for us."

The bill may be up for vote on Tuesday.

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