State House GOP leader: Lower corporate tax rate
SPRINGFIELD — House Republican Leader Tom Cross today announced a proposal to lower the overall state income tax on companies, responding to concerns that after lawmakers gave big tax breaks to Sears Holdings Corp. and other individual companies, more will follow, looking for relief.
"The approach we have with respect to taxes on businesses isn't working," Cross said at a Capitol news conference.
Cross, of Oswego, wants the corporate tax rate in Illinois lowered back to 4.8 percent, where it was before lawmakers and Gov. Pat Quinn raised it earlier this year.
In the meantime, a group of House Democrats, including some suburban lawmakers, introduced legislation to reduce the corporate tax rate, too.
That could be a tough sell, though, as the state struggles to pay its bills and Cross' plan could cost the state $800 million a year. And the Democrats' plan would make the change as of Jan. 1, 2012. With lawmakers not scheduled to come back until Jan. 31, that idea might not have legs.
In the debates over tax breaks for Sears and futures exchange CME Group, supporters suggested that both companies would be asking for further tax relief from the state even if the income tax rate hadn't been raised.
Cross acknowledged as much, but said that a lower income tax rate could stave off some of those requests.
"If you're a business, you're always going to look," he said. "I think it's harder for them to make that case."
Business leaders joined Cross at the news conference to argue that with unemployment high, businesses needed some broader help.
"Tax policy is not something you deal with one time," said Illinois Chamber of Commerce President Doug Whitley.
Whitley also praised lawmakers for the tax breaks approved this week, saying it sends a message that Illinois officials are concerned about employers.
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