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Article updated: 12/8/2012 6:16 PM

Should Illinois companies reveal their tax payments?

By Mike Riopell

SPRINGFIELD -- As state lawmakers continue to want to lure jobs into Illinois, reform group Reboot Illinois is trying to highlight that the state has one of the highest corporate income tax rates in the Midwest.

State lawmakers next month could debate legislation that would require publicly traded companies to reveal how much they pay in state taxes.

Reboot Illinois is a for-profit, nonpartisan digital media company started by Anne Dias Griffin.

The group is highlighting corporate tax rates in the wake of the transparency debate at the Capitol, but Senate President John Cullerton's concern is that many of Illinois' biggest businesses don't pay any state taxes at all, no matter the level of the rate.

It was an issue that was controversial last year as Hoffman Estates-based Sears Holdings Corp. sought massive tax incentives even though the company wasn't required to say how much income taxes they paid at the time.

Cullerton's proposal wouldn't apply to private companies, only publicly traded ones. And their tax information would be released two years after it's filed.

"It's not a gotcha to the business community," Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, said when the Senate discussed the proposal. "It's actually that (it) helps us have a better tax structure."

Business groups, though, say the proposal creates the impression that Illinois isn't friendly to commerce.

State Sen. Chris Lauzen, an Aurora Republican, said Cullerton's idea seems "punitive."

"This is an anti-business and anti-employment law," he argued.

The legislation was approved by the Senate last week by a 30-27 and could be considered by the House in early January.

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