Tax and Testing Suspensions Among Crisis Reforms Recommended by Speaker Moore

Raleigh, N.C. – State House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) on Friday recommended a range of additional crisis responses for North Carolina’s state government and the state House Select Committee on COVID-19’s bipartisan working groups to enact as the legislative panels begin meeting remotely in the coming weeks.

Speaker Moore applauded the extension of late action penalties for tax filings, payments, and licensure expirations, but urged the North Carolina Department of Revenue and legislative working groups to provide residents with additional flexibility by delaying filing deadlines for sales, payroll, unemployment insurance, and income tax filings.

The General Assembly provided the Secretary of Revenue authority to waive or reduce such penalties in special circumstances in N.C.G.S.  105-237(a). But to qualify for the waiver, an affected Taxpayer must file the return, pay the tax, obtain the license, or receive an extension on or before April 15, 2020. 

Suspending interest accumulation on state taxes owed is an example of one policy reform that may be necessary for the General Assembly to enact. Today Speaker Moore released another non-exhaustive list of policy recommendations for the administration and crisis working groups within the state House’s COVID-19 committee to consider and enact. 

Speaker Moore said suspending penalties for tax payments, licenses, and permits, were key first steps, but the state must provide further economic relief to North Carolinians increasingly affected by the crisis.

“For the average North Carolinian right now, trying to complete your tax filing before April 15 to avoid a penalty is just as unreasonable as having to pay it,” Speaker Moore said Friday.

“I have spoken with the Governor and told him we must suspend the filing deadlines as well as the penalties, and if legislation is necessary to authorize that beforehand or authorize it retroactively, I will support that.”

Currently, taxpayers who cannot meet their filing or payment requirement as a result of COVID-19 should complete Form NC-5500, Request to Waive Penalties (“NC-5500”).  

Speaker Moore called for further regulatory relief in addition to emergency unemployment insurance measures that streamline access to benefits, suspend wait periods for applicants, remove job search requirements, and waive employer penalties in the application process. 

The duration of unemployment benefits in North Carolina extends up to an additional eight weeks if the unemployment rate rises. The state’s $3.9 billion Unemployment Trust Fund is the largest reserve ratio in the Southeast.

Occupational licensure, transportation, and further suspension of regulatory deadlines to prevent penalties for non-essential infractions caused as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, were further measures Speaker Moore recommended on Friday. 

Speaker Moore urged state agencies to delay and extend expiration and due dates of fees, inspections, permits, licenses, and certifications for 60-90 days.   He also urged Secretary of State Elaine Marshall to allow virtual notarization of legal documents for North Carolinians.

Speaker Moore’s office further recommended agencies suspend escalation of civil penalties due to nonpayment for 60-90 days, but suggested special consideration be granted for agencies to maintain enforcement of penalties essential to public health. 

In education, Speaker Moore said he prioritized ensuring child nutrition needs would continue to be met by repurposing roles of non-certified personnel. In interviews this week, Speaker Moore also said local education communities need calendar flexibility for missed days that would require the General Assembly to adjust its 180-school day mandate.

“We are communicating closely with the federal government and understand that as their testing is compromised, North Carolina should follow their lead in reducing these end-of-year requirements to assist school districts.,” Speaker Moore said Friday.

Speaker Moore said Friday his office was working closely with General Assembly staff in the Fiscal Research Division, Bill Drafting, and Legislative Analysis departments to identify and recommend reforms that benefit North Carolinians facing the generational crisis.

“We are directing state agencies to extend their latitude to waive unnecessary regulations on North Carolinians while helping state leaders exercise existing emergency authority in our coordinated response,” Speaker Moore said Friday.

“For reforms that must be made by the General Assembly, we will answer the call and help North Carolinians in need.  The people of this state can rest assured we are prepared, and we are responding on their behalf.”