What’s New for 2015 North Carolina Tax Returns (Due in April 2016)?

The North Carolina General Assembly enacted legislation that significantly overhauled the income tax laws in the state effective January 1, 2014.  Below is a highlight of the most significant changes to the income tax law that continue to impact taxpayers in North Carolina for 2015.North Carolina Tax Law Changes

North Carolina Flat Tax

Perhaps the most drastic of all changes is the elimination of three personal income tax brackets (ranging from 6% to 7.75%) to a flat tax rate.  The 2015 flat tax rate is 5.75%.

Elimination of North Carolina Exemptions

In an attempt to simplify North Carolina tax law, many exemptions, deductions, and credits have been eliminated.  The most notable eliminations are as follows:

  • $50,000 exemption for small business owners
  • $4,000 deduction for government retirees (Bailey Settlement exclusions still apply)
  • $2,000 deduction for non-government retirees
  • $35,000 exemption for severance wages
  • Education expenses
  • Child care expenses
  • Earned Income Tax credit
  • Adoption expense credit
  • Long-term care insurance credit

Modification of North Carolina Standard Deductions on Tax Returns

To compensate for the loss of many deductions, the standard deductions that may be claimed on North Carolina tax returns increased as follows for 2015:

  • From $6,000 to $15,000 for married individuals filing jointly
  • From $4,400 to $12,000 for individuals filing using the Head of Household status
  • From $3,000 to $7,500 for individuals filing using the Single or Married Filing Separate status (if other spouse does not claim itemized deductions)

Changes to North Carolina Itemized Deductions on Tax Returns

New rules are in play for people who opt to itemize deductions in lieu of taking the standard deduction.  There is now a $20,000 maximum cap on the amount that can be claimed in total for mortgage interest and property taxes paid on real estate.  This deduction was previously unlimited for most people in the past.

New for 2015, itemization of medical expenses deducted on a taxpayer’s federal return are once again allowed.

Fortunately, North Carolina did not limit the amount of charitable contributions that may be claimed on a return for itemizers.

Repeal of NC529 College Savings Plan Deduction

Contributions to North Carolina 529 college savings plans are no longer deductible.

Increase to North Carolina Child Tax Credit

The North Carolina child tax credit will increase from $100 to $125 per child for many families with income under $40,000.  However, the credit will remain at $100 per child for many as long as their adjusted gross income remains under the following thresholds:

  • $100,000 – Married Filing Jointly
  • $80,000 – Head of Household
  • $50,000 – Single or Married Filing Separately


Same-Sex Couples

North Carolina now recognizes the marriages of same-sex couples legally performed both inside and outside of North Carolina. As such, same-sex married couples must now file Federal and North Carolina returns using either the Married Filing Jointly or Married Filing Separately filing status.  Couples married prior to October 24, 2014 may be eligible to claim additional refund money for the past 3 years by filing amended tax returns.


Related Articles

What’s New for 2015 Federal Tax Returns (Due in April 2014)

NC-4 EZ or NC-4: Changes to the North Carolina Employee’s Withholding Certificate Form


Simply Taxes, LLC is a local year-round tax preparation firm with an office located in North Raleigh. Our Raleigh accountants are ready to work one-on-one with you to help optimize your tax deductions and to resolve any other tax issues in a professional manner.

The information contained within this article is for general guidance only. As such, it should not be used as a substitute for consulting with professional accounting, tax, legal or other competent advisers.  

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