SPRINGFIELD (The Center Square) – Illinois voters will decide whether the state will move to a progressive income tax model from a flat tax this November, and the advertising blitz is underway.
The group “Vote Yes for Fairness” and AARP have produced ads supporting the proposed constitutional amendment. One ad claims 97 percent of Illinoisans will pay the same or less in taxes, while people making above $250,000 will pay more. Another ad said a yes vote will raise taxes on the top 3 percent, generate almost $3 billion a year and protect your retirement income.
Kevin Semlow, director of state legislation with the Illinois Farm Bureau, said $3 billion is unrealistic.
“That is a very high number from what was originally discussed,” Semlow said. “What we have seen with the downturn of the economy, and the ability for individuals to prepare for this tax structure if it is approved by the voters, I think that number is much lower.”
The ad campaign is being funded almost exclusively by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who donated $51.5 million to the campaign.
Todd Maisch, president of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, says the ads fail to mention that the legislature could change the rates at almost anytime and raise taxes on everyone.
“The other thing they don’t point out is that Illinoisans are already paying the second-highest property taxes in the nation,” Maisch said. “They conveniently leave that information out.”
The Illinois Manufacturers Association is also urging people to vote no to the tax, saying the plan will now include thousands more Illinoisans and businesses because it significantly reduced the top bracket by 25 percent, so more Illinois families and businesses will be taxed at the top rate.
Illinoisans currently pay a flat rate of 4.95 percent in income tax to the state regardless of their earnings. If voters approve the constitutional amendment, individuals or couples filing jointly would see their rates increasing to 7.75 percent on income over $250,000. The rates would increase to 7.85 percent on individual income of more than $350,000 and joint filing income of more than $500,000. The rates would increase to 7.99 percent on individual income of more than $750,000 and joint filing income of more than $1 million.
Other opponents say a progressive tax will drive more job creators out of Illinois.
The new tax rates would go into effect Jan. 1, 2021, if passed.
Reporting by Kevin Bessler
The Center Square -- formerly known as Watchdog.org and the Illinois News Network -- and their reporters represent 18 states across the United States as the taxpayers' watchdog, exposing the way government really works.
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