NC tax advice: support fair courts!
If you live in North Carolina and put off doing your taxes, here's a last-minute tip: check the box to have $3 of your taxes go to the Public Campaign Fund. It doesn't affect your tax bill, and it goes towards a great cause: getting private-interest money out of judicial elections in N.C., and replacing it with public financing.
This pioneering reform was brought to the state by Democracy North Carolina and other advocates. Here's their run-down on why it makes sense:
Say "Yes" on State Income-Tax Form
To Support Fair Elections & Fair Courts
Would you rather have North Carolina judges raising campaign money from the attorneys and business interests who appear in their courts - or from a public fund they can tap if they agree to strict spending limits?
Which way promotes fairness in our courts and gives all qualified candidates a chance, even if they are not personally wealthy?
North Carolina now has the nation's first "Clean Elections" public financing program for statewide judicial candidates. It's a major breakthrough for "voter-owned elections" in N.C. - but it won't work without public participation!
Candidates for the N.C. Supreme Court and Court of Appeals can receive substantial aid from a new Public Campaign Fund in exchange for accepting strict spending and fundraising limits. Twelve of the 16 candidates used the program in 2004, including four of the five winners.
The Fund also pays for a Voter Guide with information about the courts and candidates. Four million copies were mailed to homes in 2004.
A distinguished bipartisan panel, headed by Campbell University Law School's Dean Willis Whichard, oversees the program with the State Board of Election.
But the program won't work unless hundreds of thousands of taxpayers show support by choosing "Yes" on a check-off box that is on the N.C. income-tax form.
The check-off doesn't change a person's tax bill; it just transfers $3 to the new Public Campaign Fund for each person who says "Yes."
Look hard and find the question about the check-off on your tax return. TELL YOUR TAX CONSULTANT TO CHECK "YES" - they may not ask you the question!
For more information, call 1-888-OUR-VOTE or go to www.ncjudges.org.
Now if we could just get special interest money out of ALL elections ...
Chris Kromm is executive director of the Institute for Southern Studies and publisher of the Institute's online magazine, Facing South.