North Carolina experienced the largest drop in unemployment in 2013 and dropped below the national average in 2014 for the first time in eight years. This has occurred, in part, as a result of reforms that have attracted businesses and spurred economic growth among homegrown firms.
To modernize and streamline North Carolina's antiquated tax code, historic tax reform was signed into law, making our state affordable and economically competitive. Personal income-tax rates dropped from a maximum rate of 7.75 percent to a flat 5.8 percent in 2014 and is projected to be at 5.75 percent in 2015.
Corporate tax rates dropped from 6.9 percent to 6 percent in 2014 and are scheduled to drop to 3 percent by 2017 if revenue targets are met.
These tax reforms, along with closing loopholes, capping the gas tax and eliminating the death tax, have brought businesses like manufacturer Lee Controls to our state and helped existing companies expand.
Building on tax reform, we modernized North Carolina's unemployment system. Benefits were aligned with our neighboring states to help people enter back into the workforce and to reduce the massive debt owed to the federal government to pay for benefits.
These reforms sent a strong message to employers that North Carolina is serious about paying its bills, supporting businesses and getting people back to work. As a result, our unemployment debt has been reduced from $2.5 billion to less than $980 million. This debt is expected to be paid off three years ahead of schedule.
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