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Illinois' 32% tax increase shows need or taxpayer bill of rights

Madison County Record

Tuesday, July 25, 2017  |  Commentary  |  by Mindy Ruckman, Illinois Policy Institute |

Taxes, gasoline (88) , Taxes, income (86) , Taxes, misc. (89) , Taxes, sales (88)


Summer 2017 has been rough on Illinois taxpayers’ wallets.

The Illinois General Assembly passed a 32 percent income tax hike, the largest permanent income tax hike in Illinois history. The personal income tax has increased to 4.95 percent from 3.75 percent and the corporate income tax has increased to 7 percent from 5.25 percent, effective retroactive to July 1. This hike is estimated to bring in about $5 billion annually, meaning each Illinois household will eventually have to pay $1,125 in additional taxes annually.

But the General Assembly didn’t stop there. Included in the tax hike bill are additional taxes on cable and satellite TV, as well as expanded sales taxes on storage, laundry and dry-cleaning services.

Lawmakers pushed through these tax hikes despite opposition from an overwhelming majority of Illinois voters, according to a statewide poll conducted in May by Fabrizio, Lee & Associates and commissioned by the Illinois Policy Institute.

In addition to the taxes the state has created, this year taxpayers are also bearing the burden of increased local taxes. More than 50 local governments have implemented sales tax increases across the state effective as of July 1. These increases range from 0.25 percent to 1.5 percent and add to the Illinois’ combined sales tax rate, which is already the highest in the Midwest.

All of this is loaded on top of the highest property taxes in the nation that Illinois taxpayers pay.

A taxpayer bill of rights would give voters a stronger voice by requiring politicians to first seek permission from voters before they can raise taxes. A taxpayer bill of rights, such as the one adopted as an amendment to the Colorado Constitution, also would control government spending by creating a limit on how much revenue can increase each year, based on a formula of population plus inflation. This would bring more transparency to the budgeting process and prevent politicians from suddenly increasing taxes on Illinoisans.

In fact, a bill was introduced into the General Assembly this year to amend the Illinois Constitution by adding a taxpayer bill of rights. Unfortunately, this bill never even made it out of the Rules Committee, which House Speaker Mike Madigan controls. This shows that Illinois politicians are not interested in giving voters a say in the taxes being imposed. If this bill had passed, it could have prevented all the tax increases the General Assembly implemented this year.

Illinois taxpayers deserve a voice in budgeting decisions.