Illinois shoppers pay highest sales tax in Midwest, 8th in nation

Illinois shoppers pay highest sales tax in Midwest, 8th in nation

Illinoisans shopping for Valentine’s Day will pay the highest sales tax in the Midwest and eighth-highest in the nation.

Illinois shoppers pay an average 8.82% in combined state and local sales taxes – the highest in the Midwest and eighth-highest nationwide, a new study shows.

Chicagoans pay even more. Shopping in Illinois’ largest city will add 10.25% in combined sales taxes to the price of Valentine’s Day gifts. Some Cook County shoppers pay the highest sales tax rates in Illinois: 11.5%.

Even Illinois’ online shoppers now pay their local sales tax in addition to the state’s.

According to Forbes, 60% of the country will be hurt by inflation as they spend on Valentine’s Day. For lovers 26 and younger, almost 80% will feel inflation’s pinch.

Illinoisans have had a temporary reprieve from sales taxes on food, but on July 1 will again be paying the state’s 1% grocery tax. Gov. J.B Pritzker suspended it as part of his election-year budget. Illinois is one of only 13 states that taxes people’s need to eat.

Lawmakers have options to reduce sales taxes, which are regressive because they eat a larger share of low-income consumers’ spending power. One way to reduce the overall rate is to extend state and local sales taxes to the price of services.

Most services are generally not taxed in Illinois. That means a carton of eggs has a higher tax rate than leasing a private jet. Distributing taxes more evenly between goods and services could be used to lower the overall tax rate.

Better yet, Illinois wouldn’t need to tax residents so much if it addressed its nation-leading public pension crisis with constitutional reform.

Illinoisans pay the nation’s second-highest property taxes, as well as high sales taxes, to cover growing contributions to $75 billion in local pension debt. That debt is in addition to the $140 billion owed to the statewide public pension systems.

Both Democrats and Republicans voted to pass pension reform a decade ago, including current Attorney General Kwame Raoul. But an Illinois Supreme Court ruling means pension reform cannot happen without amending the Illinois Constitution. That change could save taxpayers billions.

Constitutional pension reform, alongside a more balanced tax system, would provide Illinoisans with necessary financial relief and put more money back into their pockets for the next holiday.

Want more? Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you, we'll keep you informed!