Illinois doesn’t need a tax hike, it needs a taxpayer bill of rights

Illinois doesn’t need a tax hike, it needs a taxpayer bill of rights

Instead of proposing more tax hikes, the Illinois Senate should provide some much needed relief to residents and pass a taxpayer bill of rights.

In a swift move against taxpayers, the Illinois Senate has proposed increasing and adding a slew of taxes on Illinoisans as part of what members are calling a “budget compromise.”

The proposal calls for an increase in the state’s personal income tax rate to 4.99 percent from the current 3.75 percent, and increasing the corporate income tax rate to 9.5 percent from the current 7.75 percent. The Senate also introduced a new payroll tax on businesses called the “opportunity tax” for “the privilege of doing business in the State.” Earlier in January, the Senate had also proposed adding a penny-per-ounce tax on sugary beverages, but lawmakers have since backed away from this idea.

If these proposals pass, taxpayers will have to pony up. Yet, taxpayers have no direct way to object to or reject these sudden tax increases. This is why Illinois needs a taxpayer bill of rights to provide protections to residents and prevent politicians from unexpectedly raising taxes.

A taxpayer bill of rights would be an amendment to the Illinois Constitution that requires the government to first seek voter approval via referendum before officials can increase an existing tax or introduce a new tax. It also creates restrictions on how much in revenues the government can collect in a year based on a formula of increases in population and inflation. For any revenue collected above what the formula allows, that excess money must be returned to taxpayers.

Illinoisans are already drowning in taxes, adding more would be detrimental to taxpayers’ pocketbooks and the prospect for economic growth in Illinois. As is, Illinois residents pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation. But it doesn’t stop there. Throughout Illinois, residents also pay various other taxes including high sales taxes, gas taxes, and even an amusement tax.

Considering how much Illinoisans are being squeezed for taxes, it’s no wonder people are exiting Illinois at record rates. Last year alone, Illinois lost 114,000 people on net to other states. People are voting with their feet and deciding they no longer can afford the heavy tax burden placed on them. Adding on more taxes will only send more Illinoisans packing.

Instead of pushing more tax hikes, the General Assembly needs to work toward reforms that will lower the tax burden on Illinois residents.  In addition to enacting a taxpayer bill of rights, elected officials need to immediately enact a property tax freeze to prevent property taxes from increasing further. Then, legislators need to look to implement additional reforms, such as changing the constitution to address the state’s overwhelming pension debts, changing collective bargaining rules so local governments can save money and fixing Illinois’ broken workers’ compensation system, to prevent Illinois from spiraling further into fiscal insanity.

Illinois taxpayers can’t afford more taxation. The Senate needs to take action to reduce the tax burden on Illinoisans before more residents choose to leave the state.

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