McHenry County lawmakers talk potential Illinois retirement income tax

As the Illinois General Assembly continues its ongoing budget battle, some local representatives are speaking out against the possibility of implementing a tax on retirement income.

On Dec. 2, Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, filed House Resolution 890 to state his opposition to a retirement tax.

Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, is one of 41 co-sponsors on the resolution, and McSweeney said he’s working to add more.

“I oppose all tax increases, but I think a retirement tax would drive senior citizens out of the state,” McSweeney said. “It’s unfair. I fully, 100 percent oppose it, and I’m proud that I’m the leader in the House against it.”

Although a retirement income tax has not been formally presented in legislation, AARP Illinois went on the offensive against the concept with a survey of Illinoisans older than 50 released Dec. 17.

Of the 1,000 people surveyed, 89 percent opposed taxing retirement income, 93 percent said a retirement income tax would impact their ability to prepare for a secure retirement, and nearly 60 percent would consider moving to another state if Illinois imposed such a tax.

AARP Illinois State Director Bob Gallo said the organization wanted to put data out there after several other groups had called for the legislation to consider a retirement tax.

“To us, this is an opportunity to put this on the table while they’re talking,” Gallo said. “Even the governor had mentioned in an article I read that the taxpayers’ voice needs to be at the table when considering new revenue. This is one group of taxpayers whose voice has spoken through this survey.”

Not all local lawmakers are ready to completely reject the idea of taxing the retired. Rep. Barbara Wheeler, R-Crystal Lake, said she is against taxing any private retirement but would support implementation of a tax on some public pensions.

Wheeler, who included pension reform in her election platform, said leaders have discussed taxing public pensions over a certain dollar amount, likely a six-figure number.

She said she would support such legislation because the Illinois Supreme Court overturned the state’s landmark 2013 pension law.

“Nobody likes the word ‘tax,’ but I do believe it’s the kind of back-door pension reform the state desperately needs because so much of our budget goes into paying pension,” Wheeler said.

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