Pritzker ‘fair’ tax could cost typical Aurora family $550

Pritzker ‘fair’ tax could cost typical Aurora family $550

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker claims his progressive income tax will only affect the rich. But Illinoisans making as little as $26,100 would see an income tax hike under rates Pritzker cited in his budget address.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has mentioned Wisconsin and Iowa as models for a fairer income tax, but the typical family in Aurora, Illinois, could pay as much as $550 more in state income taxes each year were Illinois to adopt one of those states’ rates.

The tax hike would be $550 for an Aurora median income family with two children making $76,747 if the state adopted Iowa’s rates.  If Illinois adopted Wisconsin’s rates, the family would pay $484 more in state income taxes.  Those are tax hikes of 16 and 14 percent.

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Calling the rate structure a “fair tax,” Pritzker cited these two states in his budget address Feb. 20 as examples for Illinois to follow. Specifically, he said Illinois “can accomplish” a progressive income tax with a “more competitive rate structure than Wisconsin and Iowa,” though it’s unclear how he’s defining competition. Middle-income taxpayers in Aurora – already dealing with high property taxes and a historic income tax hike in 2017 that followed a prior record hike in 2011 – might not agree that yet another tax hike is either fair or competitive.

Experts second that. A recent Tax Foundation study on Wisconsin’s tax code went so far as to recommend exchanging its progressive income tax for a flat income tax as one way to make the state more competitive. This is a move both North Carolina and Kentucky have made in recent years.

The only state in the past 30 years to embrace a progressive tax was Connecticut. That state has since seen its economy founder, lost residents and suffered more poverty for those left behind – all while state income taxes and property taxes have both grown and the state still spends more than it receives in most years.

Pritzker’s “fair tax” isn’t the only progressive tax idea floating around Springfield that should have middle-class taxpayers worried. Another progressive income tax proposal introduced in 2017 would have raised income taxes on Illinoisans earning as little as $17,300 a year.

With any of the proposals, the middle class gets hit hard, despite Pritzker’s fairness rhetoric. Illinois families cannot afford another tax hike, and it certainly wouldn’t be fair to push one on them.

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