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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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North Carolina Tax Relief Association

by Wiley J. Williams, 2006

See also: Taxpayers' League

The North Carolina Tax Relief Association (NCTRA) was formed in Raleigh in March 1930 to address the dire economic issues stemming from the Great Depression. As farm prices fell and businesses closed, tax revenues at the state, county, and municipal level fell precipitously. Local and county governments cut back salaries and services, and citizens began to call for tax relief. Under the sponsorship of the Buncombe County Association for Property Tax Relief, representatives from 44 counties, the majority of whom were farmers, created the NCTRA to address these issues. The association promptly passed a series of resolutions demanding state support of the constitutional six-month school term and state maintenance of public roads and bridges. It also called for state, county, and municipal economy in government; reduction of land valuation on county tax books; complete reform in the method of land value appraisal; and a tax reduction pledge from every member of the General Assembly and all state and county officers.

In response to NCTRA resolutions, Governor O. Max Gardner commissioned a study by the Brookings Institution analyzing state and county government organization. The Brookings Institution report, delivered in December 1930, formed the basis for significant reforms. The state government assumed the responsibility for constructing and maintaining roads and for operating the six-month school term, established the consolidated University of North Carolina System, and assigned the Local Government Commission to supervise the borrowing practices of county and municipal governments. A general sales tax was defeated, and the state left ad valorem taxes to the use of local governments, but corporation taxes were increased.


Josephine Lane Doughton, "Passage of the Sales Tax Law in North Carolina, 1931-1933" (M.A. thesis, UNC-Chapel Hill, 1949).

William S. Powell, North Carolina through Four Centuries (1989).

Additional Resources:

Gardner, O. Max. "Will Not Call Special Session of the General Assembly November 17, 1930." Public papers and letters of Oliver Max Gardner: Governor of North Carolina, 1929-1933. Raleigh: Council of State, State of North Carolina. 1937. p. 509.

Brookings Institution. Report on a survey of the organization and administration of county government in North Carolina submitted to Governor O. Max Gardner. Washington, D.C.: Institute for Government Research, Brookings Institution. 1930.

"Open Court: Tax Reform In North Carolina." The North Carolina Law Review 9. Rev. 108. 1930-1931. p. 108.

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