Sales Tax: Where Does It Go?By
The AC-T ran an article today explaining how our sales tax dollars are divvied. This is helpful reporting as Asheville debates the role of various taxes in funding various priorities.
What makes the situation more perplexing is that about $135 million of Buncombe County’s $180 million in annual sales tax comes from Asheville businesses. But because of complex state laws only about $14 million finds its way back to the city.
“What we were seeing was that about 75 percent of all retail sales that occur in Buncombe County happened in the city of Asheville,”
Of the $180 million generated by the county’s 7-cent tax, most goes to state coffers with a small portion going to Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.
Less than 2 cents, or $64 million, comes back to Buncombe’s local governments. That money is distributed according to one of two methods chosen by county officials: by population or by the amount of property taxes each entity collects.
In recent history, the county has used the property tax method. That means the county got $46 million of the $180 million in 2011, according the N.C. Department of Revenue’s most recent records. Asheville, meanwhile got $14 million. Payout to other municipalities ranged from $277,000 to nearly $1 million.
It’s wonderful that Asheville is an economic engine that helps lift the whole region. We all love living here, and working together is what makes it all work. Providing a jobs center as well as a vibrant culture, Asheville’s successes ripple out across Buncombe and WNC. Worldwide popularity and the 2.9 million overnight travelers who come here each year mean that we have some distinct challenges in maintaining our infrastructure and responding to emergency needs (Occupancy tax revenues do not go directly to county governments. That 4% tax is distributed only for tourism related activities by the Tourism Development Authority, one example being their big investment in improving the Civic Center.).
Thanks to our partners in the County and at other levels of government who are willing to craft solutions, so Asheville can continue to be the beating heart of western North Carolina.