Pritzker’s office says they can’t find the math behind his tax plan
The governor’s office issued a concerning response to a simple request for the numbers backing up his “fair tax” proposal.
More than a week after claiming his income tax proposal would raise $3.4 billion in new revenue, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office now claims it can’t find the math used to calculate that number.
This doesn’t inspire confidence in the governor’s plan for a graduated income tax, which would require eliminating one of Illinois’ “few saving graces” for taxpayers: a constitutionally protected flat income tax.
Pritzker’s office on March 15 requested a five-day extension to respond to the Illinois Policy Institute’s Freedom of Information Act request seeking the methodology behind his $3.4 billion revenue estimate. The Institute filed the request March 7, the same day Pritzker announced his proposed income tax rates.
The governor’s office requested the extension “pursuant to 5 ILCS 140/3(e)(iv).” That section of statute reads, “the requested records have not been located in the course of routine search and additional efforts are being made to locate them.”
The governor’s math doesn’t add up – with a simple “static” estimate showing the proposal would bring in nearly $1 billion less than Pritzker claims. But Pritzker’s office has so far refused this basic transparency measure on a multibillion-dollar tax hike. The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget also issued a request for a five-day extension, citing other FOIA provisions. The Illinois Department of Revenue requested an extension as well.
Neither the Civic Federation nor the Institute has been able to replicate Pritzker’s claim of $3.4 billion in new revenue from his proposal, which is a concern for Illinoisans worried that they can’t trust state lawmakers to set new, “fair” income tax rates under the governor’s proposed constitutional amendment.
Indeed, the governor has already signaled wiggle room on his proposed rates, further making the case that a constitutional amendment to remove the flat income tax protection would be a bridge to higher taxes for the middle class.
UPDATE: After this story was published, Pritzker’s office sent details regarding their revenue estimate assumptions to Springfield political blog Capitol Fax. Pritzker’s office neglected to include crucial elements of the estimate, such as 1) The assumed number of tax returns in 2021 2) The distribution of returns by bracket in 2021 and 3) The compound annual growth rate by income group and the source for the growth data.