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Opinion

Why I oppose the graduated income tax

State Rep. Jeff Keicher
State Rep. Jeff Keicher

Why I Oppose the Graduated Income Tax

By Jeff Keicher, State Representative, 70th District

One of the major issues pending in Springfield today is the graduated income tax, a centerpiece of Governor JB Pritzker’s agenda. On May 1, the Illinois State Senate voted to place a constitutional amendment on the November 2020 General Election ballot asking voters to approve changing the Illinois Constitution to allow for a graduated income tax, with rates to be set by politicians in Springfield and subject to change at any time.

For months, the Governor and his allies have been blanketing the state with a multi-million dollar paid advertising campaign, touting who will pay more and who will pay less under their plan. Yet, in a troubling development, the proposed rates have already been amended once since they were first introduced. Candidly, Governor Pritzker said he cannot give any “guarantees” that there will not be more changes to the rates, which means higher taxes on middle-income earners.

This is important because it proves exactly what taxpayers should fear most – in Springfield, politicians cannot be trusted NOT to raise your rates over, and over, and over again. Due to massive spending increases and a total lack of fiscal discipline in recent years, the rates being pursued by supporters of the graduated income tax are unsustainable and would inevitably be raised on middle-class families.

In a major development, new projections from the Illinois Department of Revenue indicate that this year’s tax receipts will be the HIGHEST they have ever been in our state’s 200-year history. This makes it plainly clear – we have the money to balance the budget with NO new taxes and NO tax increases.

Opposition to the graduated income tax is bipartisan. State Representative Jonathan Carroll, a Democrat from Northbrook, said this week “I am a no on this plan and changing the constitution” and, referring to the graduated income tax, said “punishing people for being successful is very shortsighted.” I agree.

Illinois’ flat income tax is one of the few remaining competitive advantages we have compared to neighboring states. According a recent study by WalletHub, Illinois residents pay the highest overall tax burden in the country, particularly when you factor in the impact of our outrageously high property taxes. Moving to a graduated income tax – with rates to be set by politicians in Springfield and subject to being raised at any time – would only serve to drive more families and jobs out of Illinois. We cannot afford that.

The graduated income tax bill will be considered by the House of Representatives in the very near future. I will be joining colleagues on both sides of the aisle in voting NO.

Jeff Keicher is the representative for Illinois' 70th District.

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