Pritzker ‘fair tax’ could hike taxes on typical Decatur family by up to $274

Pritzker ‘fair tax’ could hike taxes on typical Decatur family by up to $274

While progressive tax proponents champion their “tax on the rich,” middle-income families in Decatur could see a tax hike under the income tax models praised by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

A proposed overhaul of Illinois’ flat income tax could mean tax hikes between $155 and $274 for the typical family in Decatur.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker wants to scrap the state’s constitutionally protected flat tax in favor of a graduated, or “fair,” tax structure. What would that system look like? In his Feb. 20 budget address, Pritzker pointed to Iowa and Wisconsin’s tiered income tax rates as models for Illinois. While Pritzker has framed this system as a “tax on the rich,” middle-income Rock Island County families would get hit with tax hikes under both models.

The state income tax would increase by $274 on the median Decatur family with two children earning $60,899 if Illinois adopted Wisconsin’s rates. The hike would be $155 if Illinois adopted Iowa’s rates. That family isn’t rich by Decatur standards, they are in the middle and could see a state tax increase of 10 percent or 6 percent under the systems Pritzker admires.

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Decatur residents could see large increases after Illinois’ leaders decide what taxation is “fair.” In 2017 those leaders decided it would be fair for all Illinoisans to shoulder the largest permanent income tax hike in state history, which came after they in 2011 decided it would be fair to impose a record income tax hike.

Pritzker said in his budget address that Illinois “can accomplish” a progressive income tax with “a more competitive rate structure than Wisconsin and Iowa.” But his meaning is unclear: A recent Tax Foundation study recommended that Wisconsin make its tax code more competitive by replacing its progressive income tax structure with a flat tax. Both North Carolina and Kentucky have swapped their states’ progressive income taxes for a flat tax in recent years. Connecticut is the only state in the past 30 years to add a progressive tax and it seriously damaged their middle class, job market and poverty rates.

State lawmakers should check the dictionary before imposing their own definition of “fair” on Decatur families. They also should grab a calculator.

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