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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.

Jorge Valencia has been with North Carolina Public Radio since 2012. A native of Bogotá, Colombia, Jorge studied journalism at the University of Maryland and reported for four years for the Roanoke Times in Virginia before joining the station. His reporting has also been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Miami Herald, and the Baltimore Sun.
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