Editorial: How do you like taxes: ‘Flat,’ or ‘fair’?


How do you feel about the Fair Tax Amendment to the Illinois Constitution that will be on your ballot Nov. 3.

And what about the Tax Increase Amendment that, not coincidentally, will also be on the fall ballot?

They are, of course, the same thing.

When you vote, you won’t see the terms “fair tax” or “tax increase” anywhere. Those are marketing labels adopted by political advocacy groups to try to appeal to voters.

After all, who could be against a “fair tax”? What voter would support a “tax increase”?

Illinois voters will have to choose one or the other in deciding whether to give the General Assembly the power to set different state income tax rates for people of different income levels, as 34 other states do – including Midwestern neighbors Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin.

The Illinois Constitution denies that authority to the Legislature, instead requiring legislators to establish one rate for all individuals. In the past decade, that rate has ranged from 3 percent to 5 percent, and now sits at 4.95 for everyone.

That uniformity is called a “flat tax.” Different rates for different income groups is called a “graduated” or “progressive” tax, with rates getting progressively higher as income rises.

Despite what the political advertising tries to sell you, this is what you will actually see on the ballot:

Proposed Amendment to the 1970 Illinois Constitution

The proposed amendment grants the State authority to impose higher income tax rates on higher income levels, which is how the federal government and a majority of other states do it. The amendment would remove the portion of the Revenue Article of the Illinois Constitution that is sometimes referred to as the “flat tax,” that requires all taxes on income to be at the same rate. The amendment does not itself change tax rates. It gives the State the ability to impose higher tax rates on those with higher income levels and lower tax rates on those with middle or lower income levels. You are asked to decide whether the proposed amendment should become a part of the Illinois Constitution.

Yes or No

You should have received by mail last week an eight-page, 5.5-by-8.5-inch pamphlet from the office of Illinois Secretary of State. It contains information on the referendum question as well as arguments for and against the measure.

A good editor would have eliminated a lot of the duplication in the pro and con statements in the pamphlet, but they boil down to this:

PRO: A CEO making $20 million a year ought to pay a higher tax rate than his secretary making $20 an hour. To address the state’s financial troubles, the tax burden should be heavier on high-income earners as it is in most other states.

CON: Given the Legislature’s miserable performance that has put the state on the brink of bankruptcy, legislators cannot be trusted with additional taxing authority, which will lead to even higher rates for everyone. They need to cut spending instead.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who has advocated for this constitutional amendment since the early days of his successful 2018 campaign for governor, has proposed rates that would increase income taxes on only the top 3 percent of incomes, individuals making more than $250,000 a year.

You won’t be able to avoid the pro and con commercials that will flood TV and radio airwaves for the next eight weeks and the oversized postcards that will stuff your mailbox in this well-funded campaign on both sides.

Hotel billionaire Pritzker, a Democrat, has so far put more than $50 million of his personal fortune into the Vote Yes for Fairness campaign.

Hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin, a frequent contributor to Republican candidates, recently gave $20 million to the Coalition to Stop the Proposed Tax Hike Amendment.

This is a statewide referendum now because the General Assembly last year approved it, but the Constitution says it cannot be enacted without voters’ approval.

To be passed, the question needs a “yes” from 60 percent of people who vote on the issue, or 50 percent of all people who cast a ballot in this election, whether or not they actually vote on the tax proposition.

You decide, voters.

Yes, or No?

News,Region: NW Herald,Region: Suburbs

via The Woodstock Independent https://ift.tt/3432SSR

September 20, 2020 at 07:22PM

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