To the Editor:
Why all the hoopla about the constitutional amendment to change Illinois' tax code? A read of the 2019 Form IL-1040 Instructions makes clear that we don't have a flat tax. We haven’t had one for a long time.
What’s the effect of a personal exemption? It cuts the nominal tax rate for those to whom it applies. The less a person’s taxable income, the less the percentage of their income paid in Illinois taxes. And if your federal adjusted gross income (AGI) is high enough (over $250,000 for a single filer, $500,000 for a married couple filing jointly), you don’t get to claim that personal exemption at all!
The Illinois Supreme Court has already turned a blind eye to this non-flat tax and is silent on “balanced” budgets too, allowing borrowing to “balance” them for decades, by Democratic- and Republican-controlled legislatures alike. How law abiding! How courageous! How dumbfounding! It has encouraged a spend, spend, spend mindset that leaves us with little more than nothing, nothing, nothing in reserve for times such as these.
So who needs an amendment? Bring the exemption amount up and the AGI level at which the exemption disappears down until the budget is balanced without borrowing.
How high will legislators raise the personal exemption, thereby helping the least able to pay among us? How much must they then drop the phase-out of the personal exemption and increase the flat tax rate to actually balance our budget like we must in our households? The answer: welcome to much higher taxes, middle class, because our legislators haven’t been willing to tax us for the actual cost of their governance for decades, and the Illinois Supreme Court has stood by as these legislators saddled the current and future generations with massive debt.
The bottom line is that we need a strict interpretation and enforcement of our current constitution. No more borrowing. Force the tax rate to be set to pay our bills without more borrowing and see a whole new set of legislators voted in who are committed cost-effective governance. Wake up, wise up and act, impotent Illinois Supreme Court!