Specific State & Local Taxes for Businesses

Corporate Income Tax

The corporate income tax rate is 3%. The state is in the second year of its three-year transition to single sales factor apportionment for multistate corporations. Effective January 1, 2018, the state will determine how much of a corporation’s income is subject to state tax based solely on its revenue from sales located in or sourced to North Carolina. It will no longer factor in a company’s property and payroll in the state. Of the 44 states that levy a corporate income tax, North Carolina has the lowest rate.

Franchise Tax and Income Taxes for S Corporations

A franchise tax is levied on business corporations (including those electing federal S Corporation status and limited liability companies that elect to be taxed as C or S corporations for federal income tax purposes) at the rate of $1.50 per $1,000 of the largest of three alternate bases. These bases are (a) the amount of the capital stock, surplus, and undivided profits apportionable to the State; or (b) 55% of appraised value of property in the State subject to local taxation; or (c) the book value of real and tangible personal property in the State less any debt outstanding which was created to acquire or improve real property in the State. Book value may be computed by use of the same depreciation methods as are permitted for federal income tax purposes.

For an S Corporation: The tax rate is $200 for the first $1 million of the corporation’s tax base and $1.50 per $1000 of the largest tax base that exceeds $1 million.

Incorporation Fees

A fee of $125 is payable to the Office of the Secretary of State upon filing articles of incorporation; this fee is $60 for non-profit corporations. There is a fee of $250 for application for certificate of authority on foreign companies only. In addition, an annual report filing fee may be paid with the corporation’s income and franchise tax return or may be filed and paid electronically with the North Carolina Secretary of State. If the fee is paid with the return, the filing fee is $25. The franchise tax and corporate income tax are reported on the same return.

For corporations set up as LLCs, a fee of $125 is due when filing articles of organization; a fee of $250 for application for certificate of authority. An annual report with a $200 filing fee is also required, but LLC’s subject to the franchise tax may receive a franchise tax credit equal to the difference between this fee and the standard $25 annual report fee.

Various fees other than those mentioned above are imposed when documents are delivered to the Office of the Secretary of State for filing. Additional information can be obtained from the Corporations Division, Office of the Secretary of State, Post Office Box 29622, Raleigh, North Carolina 27626-0622, and from the Secretary of State’s website at http://www.sosnc.com

Other Income Tax Credits

Income tax credits are also available for the following: 1) investing in renewable energy property; 2) construction of low-income housing; 3) rehabilitating historic structures and historic mills; 4) construction of cogenerating power plants; 5) qualified film or television production expenses; 6) qualified expenses of research performed in the state; 7) construction or leasing of a railroad intermodal facility in the State, and 8) manufacturing cigarettes for exportation.

Special Tax Provisions for Limited Liability Companies

A LLC is subject to income taxation as a partnership if it is classified as a partnership for federal income tax purposes or as a corporation if it is classified as a corporation for federal income tax purposes. A single-member LLC may also be classified as a disregarded entity, meaning its income, losses, and income tax credits are reported on the owner’s income tax return. An LLC classified as a corporation (C or S) for federal income tax purposes is subject to the franchise tax, but all other LLCs are exempt. However, it is the intent of the law that the franchise tax applies equally to assets held by corporations and assets held by corporate-affiliated LLCs. A non-corporate LLC’s assets are attributed to a controlling corporation if the corporation or affiliated group of corporations owned 50% or more of the LLC’s assets. This is to prevent corporations from reducing their franchise tax by transferring assets to their LLC.

Withholding Income Tax

Employers are required to withhold individual income tax from wages and salaries of their employees. A pension payer that must withhold federal income tax from a pension payment to a North Carolina resident is required to withhold State income tax. A pension recipient may elect not to have taxes withheld and certain pension payments are exempt.

Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment Insurance (employment security tax) is paid quarterly and applies to wage payments up to $23,100 per employee per year. Entities commencing business in North Carolina are subject to a tax rate of 1.0% during the first two years. The rate may be changed after the entity comes under experience rating. The minimum tax rate allowed is .06% of taxable payrolls and the maximum tax rate is 5.76%. The tax is administered by the Division of Employment Security within the North Carolina Department of Commerce. Information regarding the tax is available at www.ncesc1.com.

Privilege Taxes on Certain Machinery and Equipment

A privilege tax of 1% of sales price, with a maximum of $80 per article, is imposed on purchasers (excluding motion picture or film production companies or retailers of food prepared for consumption) of manufacturing machinery, parts, and accessories stored, used, or consumed in the state and on purchasers of crane systems, port or dock facilities, rail equipment, and material handling equipment if they are used in connection with a major recycling facility in the state, and on research and development companies in the physical, engineering, and life sciences, specified software publishing companies, industrial machinery refurbishing companies, and eligible datacenters that purchase certain capitalized equipment. The privilege tax is imposed in lieu of State use tax, and a credit is allowed when a substantially equivalent tax is due and paid to another state.