Poll shows high taxes encouraging Illinoisans to leave the state

Poll shows high taxes encouraging Illinoisans to leave the state

Nearly half of respondents said they would like to leave the state, including almost two-thirds of millennials.

A shocking number of people want to leave the state, and high taxes may be the root cause. A new Paul Simon Institute poll found that 47 percent of responders said they would like to move out of Illinois. The numbers were higher for specific age groups – 57 percent of millennials and 58 percent of people ages 35 to 50, said they want to leave Illinois. The high cost of taxes was the number one reason residents want to move away.

The poll also asked people if they believe Illinois is going in the right or wrong direction. The results were sobering: Almost 84 percent said the state is headed in the wrong direction, and less than 10 percent said the state is going in the right direction.

“People often don’t feel they get good value for their tax dollars and with frequent stories of public corruption or the large numbers of governmental units, it’s no wonder why they feel that way,” said David Yepson, the director of the Paul Simon Institute, in the study.

Indeed, it is no wonder high taxes were cited as the number one reason people want to move away. Illinois residents have the burden of paying for some of the highest property taxes in the nation. What’s worse is that property taxes have even grown 3.3 times faster than the median household income. That means the taxes are growing faster than people are able to pay for them. But the burden doesn’t stop with just property taxes: Illinois taxpayers also pay high taxes in other areas, including high gas taxes, business income taxes and sales taxes. All these taxes combined rank Illinois as having the fourth-highest tax burden in the nation as a share of income.

Unfortunately, corruption makes the sting of paying high taxes that much worse. Considering Illinois is ranked highest for corruption out of all the states, taxpayers in Illinois have to suffer the cost of government mismanagement, theft and waste of taxpayer dollars. Taxpayers are always the losers when corruption and mismanagement go unchecked, because the taxpayers cover the extra cost of government.

Illinois taxpayers desperately need a taxpayer bill of rights to provide protection from high taxes driving residents away. A taxpayer bill of rights, similar to the one modeled in Colorado, is a constitutional amendment restricting revenue increases to a rate of population plus inflation. If the governing entity would like to raise taxes above the limit, or introduce any new tax, then they must first seek permission from voters via a ballot referendum. If more revenues are collected than the formula allows, then the governing entity is required to reimburse the excess money back to the taxpayers.

Both Illinois businesses and residents would benefit from a taxpayer bill of rights because it would prevent the government from suddenly burdening them with higher taxes. This would allow business owners and residents to be able to better plan their long-term tax liabilities. And it would force the government to budget for the long-term without the ability to lump financial liabilities onto future generations.

Additionally, a taxpayer bill of rights encourages transparency because it requires the governing entity to give an account for what they would like to do with any excess tax dollars. Any time there is a proposal to raise taxes or keep excess tax revenues via a ballot referendum, the following must be provided: information on the governing entity’s current and previous four years of spending, the proposed tax increase in percentages and estimated dollar amounts, and summaries of support for and opposition to the proposed tax increase. This provision is important because transparency is the best protection against corruption.

Adding a taxpayer bill of rights to the Illinois Constitution would be a win for Illinois taxpayers, as it would give certainly to all taxpayers, especially those who have expressed concerns about the state’s high taxes. Illinois politicians would be wise to listen to taxpayers’ concerns before they decide to pack up and leave the state.

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