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Orange County household income falls

A factbox I had in today's Chapel Hill News story did not make it into the online version. Here it is below. You can also read the rest of the story here. The numbers come from the American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau every year between 10-year censuses,


- Median household income in Orange County fell from $55,717 in 2008 to $50,159 in 2009. The median is the point where half the incomes were higher and half lower. The state median household income was $43,674, down from $46,244.

- 69 percent of workers 16 and older in Orange County drove alone to work; 9.3 percent carpooled; 7 percent took public transportation, and 5 percent walked. (The others worked at home or have other means og getting to their job.)

- The average commute for Orange County workers was 21.4 minutes.

- 89.2 percent of Orange County residents had health insurance; 10.8 percent had not health insurance.

- Of the insured, 80.4 percent had private insurance; 19.6 percent had public insurance.

Will the poverty and income stats reported in the latest Orange County census survey make it harder or easier to sell that quarter-cent sales tax referendum this fall? Are you for or against the tax increase. Tell us here or in a letter to Please include your name if you want your comments published in the paper. Thanks.

Accounting firm BDO to open Raleigh office

Tags: .biz | accounting | audits | BDO | taxes

After years of servicing its Triangle clients out of offices in Charlotte and Richmond, the audit firm BDO has decided to open an office in Raleigh.

Michael Dannar, managing partner for the Raleigh office, said the company has built up a local staff of 16 since February and expects to have about 20 employees when it moves into new office space at 5430 Wade Park Boulevard off Edwards Mill Road in west Raleigh.

"With the growth of Raleigh and the industries that are here and BDO's focus on those industries it just made sense for them to move forward right now," Dannar said.

Chicago-based BDO offers audit, tax, financial advisory and consulting services to a range of companies. Many of the company's clients work in industries that have a heavy presence in the Triangle -- biotechnology, IT, financial services, nonprofits and higher education.

"We are looking to move back to Durham."

Readers reacted strongly to Sunday’s story about businesses leaving Orange County and taking commercial tax revenue with them.

“I have seen all this happen for years,” said Durham native Aaron Thompson, who lives in Hillsborough and works at the Durham Performing Arts Center. “We are looking to move back to Durham because for a resident Orange County does not have anything here that’s worth paying the taxes that we have to pay.”

Other readers agreed the loss of commercial tax base has been an ongoing problem.

“I have lived here for 25 years and it has not changed!” one wrote in an e-mail.

Amazon asks court to block N.C. request for customer data is fighting an effort by North Carolina tax officials to collect customer data, including personal information and details on everything residents have purchased at the online retailer since 2003.

In a complaint filed Monday in federal court in Seattle, Amazon wrote that the request from the N.C. Department of Revenue would violate the First Amendment rights of its customers. State officials are seeking the additional information as part of an audit of Amazon's compliance with state sales and use tax.

The spat comes as North Carolina is trying to increase tax revenue and bolster its ailing budget. North Carolina has threatened contempt proceedings if Amazon doesn’t turn over the names and addresses of each customer in the state who bought more than 50 million products from Amazon during the past seven years, according to the complaint.

IRS holds open house Saturday in Raleigh

Tags: .biz | IRS | tax breaks | taxes

The IRS is holding an "open house" on Saturday at various offices around the state, including Raleigh.

Agents will be available from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. to work directly with people to resolve issues they may be having with their returns because of economic hardship. The agents also can help people claim any special tax breaks they might be due as a result of last year’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The open offices are at 4405 Bland Road in Raleigh; 3340 Jaeckle Drive in Wilmington; 320 Federal Place in Greensboro; Five Resource Square, Suite 1-300, 10715 David Taylor Drive in Charlotte,  and 115 Fifth Ave. NW in Hickory.


Federal tax refunds jump

Federal tax refunds are putting a little extra money in people's pockets this year.

According to statistics released today by the Internal Revenue Service, the average federal tax refund totaled $3,036, an increase of $266 compared with the same period a year ago.

Credit the extra dough, at least in part, to a number of federal tax incentives enacted last year as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, including the home buyer credit and sales and excise tax deductions for new car buyers.

So far, the number of tax returns filed through March 12 is down slightly over the same time period last year. In other data, more than 82 percent of the 69 million returns received this year have come in via electronic filing.


E-filing opens Friday

Tags: .biz | e-file | IRS | taxes

If you have already received your W-2 form from your employer, you can e-file your taxes this week. Friday is the first day the Internal Revenue Service will begin accepting e-filed returns.

However, if you do not yet have your required tax forms from your employer, you must wait to file. Employers have until the end of January to send the forms. Remember that you will also need any other tax forms you are expecting prior to filing.

And, if you had a tough financial year in 2009, the IRS has a special "What If" Q&A section of its Web site that addresses economic questions like, "What if I lose my job?"


Retailers' sales-tax data for September to require extra paperwork

Retailers might do a double take when they file their sales tax data for the month of September.

The online system at the N.C. Department of Revenue will show the sales tax as one penny, or one percentage point, lower than the actual rate for September, which is 7.75 percent in most counties, including the Triangle area.

But retailers still have to pay the correct rate and fill out a worksheet to do it, creating an extra hassle for store owners.
 The sales tax rose by a penny on Sept. 1, but the Department of Revenue is not changing the online system for September to reflect that change for two reasons.

Tax hikes won't cost jobs, report says

North Carolina's recently enacted tax hikes won't cause job losses, according to a new report released this morning.

The report from the N.C. Budget & Tax Center in Raleigh suggests that "tax increases will not hurt the private-sector job market" as some critics have claimed.

April 15, 2009: Raleigh's 'Tea Party' gets pretty hot

Raleigh's 'Tea Party" tax protests draw hundreds in downtown on tax day.

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