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Ballard, Jordan Talk Tax Reform, Mortgage-Interest Deduction at Harvest House

State congressional candidates, Sen. Deanna Ballard and Rep. Jonathan Jordan, at the forum sponsored by the N.C. Homeowners Alliance and High Country Association of Realtors. Photo by Ken Ketchie

By Jesse Wood

The Harvest House hosted Republican candidates, N.C. Sen. Deanna Ballard and N.C. Rep. Jonathan Jordan, on Wednesday evening. The event was co-sponsored by the N.C. Homeowners Alliance and the High Country Association of Realtors.

Jordan, an attorney in Ashe County is again facing Democrat Sue Counts, former Watauga County Cooperative Extension director. Jordan has represented Ashe and Watauga counties in the N.C. House since 2010.

Ballard is a Republican residing in Blowing Rock and an employee of Samaritan’s Purse. She was appointed to the N.C. Senate by Gov. Pat McCrory after former Sen. Dan Soucek, another employee of Samaritan’s Purse, abruptly resigned in April, several months before his term was set to end. After winning the Republican primary, Ballard is running against Art Sherwood, a Democrat from Caldwell during the general election.

After introductions, the candidates took a first question from the moderator regarding expectations for continued tax reform, where state Republicans have been favoring consumption taxes and moving towards the elimination of the state income tax for the past several years.

The two-part question also addressed the future of mortgage-interest deduction, which was capped at $20,000 during Jordan’s current term in the N.C. House.

“Tax reform on the scale of what we’ve seen on the past four years probably will not continue. There will be smaller changes … There are a lot of states [around us] that are competitive with us that have no income tax,” Jordan said. “Plus, I tell people if you get a sales tax in place for majority of state revenue, you are going to catch tourists, you are going to catch illegal aliens, you are going to catch students. You are going to catch a lot of people that otherwise wouldn’t be paying if it was all income tax.”

As for mortgage-interest deduction, Jordan said that a compromise of the $20,000 cap was reached because others in the N.C. House didn’t favor an unlimited deduction. He suggested that the audience contact colleagues in other districts to persuade their legislators to at least not lower the $20,000 cap.

Ballard, who has only been serving since April, said as a homeowner it was important to preserve the mortgage-interest deduction for “as long as we can.” She added that she’s not sure what the future holds on that front.

“I am not sure where things will go each session,” Ballard said.

Both acknowledged that deductions would automatically disappear with the elimination of the state’s income tax.

“There are some benefits to what’s been going on as far as tax reform. As far as this one in particular [mortgage-deduction interest] I do think if we go this route it will be the last thing that gets discussed or gets to that point. I just know from our conversations it’s been a key point,” Ballard said.

See more photos from forum below: