Archive for » August 26th, 2014«

Says Thom Tillis "gives tax breaks to yacht and jet owners."

Supporters of Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., say giving tax breaks to yacht and jet owners is one way that her opponent has shown he is out-of-touch with the state’s average families.

In the North Carolina race for U.S. Senate, much of the debate has focused on Republican candidate Thom Tillis’ actions as a state leader.

In 2013, the North Carolina government received national attention for a wave of conservative legislation. The Republican-dominated General Assembly — with Tillis as speaker of the House — passed laws increasing voter ID requirements, lowering business regulations, upping restrictions on abortion providers, tightening education spending, trimming unemployment benefits and changing the tax code.

In another fact-check, we found that the controversial tax code changes reduced taxes for everyone — but much more for wealthier people than lower-income people.

Supporters of Hagan, the incumbent, keep harping on this point about the tax code in particular: Tillis supports tax breaks for yacht and jet owners. You can hear that claim here, here and here.

Most recently, we heard it in an ad from Senate Majority PAC, a liberal political action committee.

“When it comes to education, Thom Tillis is gambling with our future,” the ad’s narration says. “As speaker, he cut nearly $500 million from education, eliminating 9,000 teaching positions and overcrowding classrooms. Now he’s promising more lottery money for education? We’ve heard that broken promise before. Meanwhile, Tillis gives tax breaks for yacht and private jet owners.”

Some of the other ads said Tillis “protected” tax breaks for yacht and jet owners, but others — including this one — say he gave them the tax breaks. We decided to look into the claim a little more closely.

N.C. tax code

In 2013, under Tillis’ leadership, North Carolina lawmakers passed legislation to overhaul the tax code — which hadn’t had comprehensive reform since the 1930s.

The primary change was switching the income tax from a progressive rate to a flat rate. The law also eliminated tax holidays, sales tax exemptions and the State Earned Income Tax Credit, which is a refundable tax credit for low-income workers.

So what did the law do for yacht and jet owners? Well, nothing, really. It preserved the tax breaks that were already in place.

Since 1991, boats and aircraft — a broader category than just yachts and jets — have had a sales tax rate of 3 percent, with a $1,500 cap. This means that anyone who buys a boat or plane worth $50,000 or more pays exactly $1,500 in taxes.

The rate had been 2 percent from 1969 to 1991, and the cap was $300 until 1989, according to a document prepared by the North Carolina General Assembly research division.

While Tillis and other Republican state lawmakers did not create tax breaks for plane and boat owners, they left the prior tax breaks in place.

According to the News and Observer in Raleigh, the law only cut 48 of the more than 300 tax breaks included in the tax code. Additionally, the legislature did not include the boat and airplane tax breaks in a bundle of loopholes that recieved additional scrutiny in a study committee.

It’s also worth noting that Tillis, though he was speaker at the time and supported the bill, was not an author or primary sponsor of the tax code legislation.

The cap on boat and aircraft sales taxes amounts to $10 million in lost annual revenue, according to the N.C. Budget and Tax Center, a liberal advocacy group.

Our ruling

A Senate Majority PAC ad said, “Thom Tillis gives tax breaks to yacht and jet owners.”

North Carolina lawmakers, under Tillis’ leadership, overhauled the state’s tax code in 2013. But they left in place a 23-year-old tax break for boats and aircraft. By using the word “give,” the statement suggests Tillis created the tax breaks, which he didn’t.

Because the ad turns inaction into action, we rate this claim False.

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Sailing on two boats Neil Bhoopalam

Hijri Calendar
Shawwal 30,1435 AH

Fajar: 4.59 am
Zohar: 12.27 pm
Asar: 4.40 pm
Maghrib: 6.39 pm
Isha: 7.49 pm
Sunset today 6.34 pm
sunrise tomorrow 6.02 am
Moonrise tomorrow 7.12 am
Moonset today 7.36 pm

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No plain sailing

The West Australian Toby Schmitz. Picture: Frank W. Ockenfels

The thought of starring in a TV series helmed by a network notorious for producing R-rated content was no deterrent for Perth-raised actor Toby Schmitz.

Instead, the 39-year-old NIDA graduate was eager to transform into a brazen pirate for the epic adventure drama Black Sails, the latest offering from US pay-TV channel Starz which, not surprisingly, is replete with sex, nudity and foul language.

“There’s not much I haven’t already done in terms of R-rated stuff on stage or screen, so I have to admit I didn’t raise an eyebrow with what I might have to do,” Schmitz laughs.

Better known for his stage roles, Schmitz’s TV credits include Crownies, The Cooks and Underbelly Files: The Man Who Got Away.

“Sure there’s some adult content but it’s all going to be within the sphere of this world in the early 1700s. All the R-rated stuff, be it sex or violence, I thought was really tied to the plot in a great way and sort of character- revealing stuff.

“It was really interesting because, when we started, the creators of the show were very swift to assure us that the show had its own flavour and I think they were true to their word.”

Spawned as a “loose prequel” to Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic Treasure Island, Black Sails opens in the year 1715 at the peak of the golden age of piracy where violence and bloodshed is rife.

Much of the series is set on New Providence Island, a former British colony now overrun by the most feared of pirates who ruled the high seas.

Schmitz plays Jack Rackham, a quartermaster and right-hand man of Capt. Charles Vane (Zach McGowan), who he describes as a “Wall Street banker” of the pirate world.

“He’s quite addicted to the deal, maybe even more than the deal itself, like the kind of guys who just keep stocking away money and keep turning up to work and is sort of turned on by the chase,” he says.

“So I think that was a really early discovery of the character and one that was sort of borne through as we kept filming but that’s the fun thing for me, to try and play someone who doubles down.”

With Hollywood movie-master Michael Bay (Transformers) as executive producer, Black Sails abounds with high-seas action and adventure.

Shot in Cape Town, Schmitz says the authentic purpose-built township and pristine coastal scenery helped transport the cast back in time, as opposed to filming the scenes against a green screen in a studio.

“The set is quite incredible; I’ve never seen anything like it and everyone who walks on set, their jaw drops,” Schmitz says. “It is practical in that you’re not cutting to inside a studio, that cabin is actually there so you can follow it in off the street and have merchants go past the door.

“So it creates that wonderful world you see on screen but it sure helps you as an actor when you’re looking around and you see the 200 pirate extras and dogs running through the street . . . I suppose this is pretty much 1715.”

To ensure everyone looked the part, the cast were put through their paces with intensive boot-camp sessions in the months leading up to filming.

“The creators were very keen for everyone to move and look like they did hard labour on boats,” Schmitz explains.

“It was a very big, physical gym regimen and a lot of stage fighting, sword fighting and sparring and all that stuff, and we keep that up while we shoot as well. As soon as I got the part, they said it’s time to start. It was about three months before I arrived in Cape Town.”

Black Sails also stars WAAPA graduate Luke Arnold, last seen on TV screens as Michael Hutchence in Seven’s mini-series INXS: Never Tear Us Apart.

Arnold plays Treasure Island’s notorious antagonist John Silver, who joins Captain Flint’s (Toby Stephens) motley crew, and Schmitz says they hit it it off instantly.

“I rolled up in Cape Town and was sitting on my balcony thinking this is all new like my first day at school, and then Luke called up from down at the pool and we hadn’t met before, so since then we’ve become fast friends,” Schmitz recalls.

“It’s great having an Australian ally in a new world. Also I think he’s a fab actor; he’s got a wonderful sort of Lector charm. “

Sydney-based Schmitz admits his busy schedule of late has kept him from visiting his home town.

“It’s been a couple of years but whenever I’m in Perth, I relish it,” he says. “It’s like a health retreat for me; having a beer in Fremantle pubs is something I dream about. But it’s a rarer and rarer thing given the distance and the price of the airfare ticket (laughs).”

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