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updated: 4/29/2014 10:29 AM

State needs complete income tax overhaul

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Bob Foys' letter to the editor on April 21, "Lawmakers have power to make change now," shows how individuals engaged in Illinois' tax debate too often leave out a very important fact -- under current Illinois law 100 percent of Illinois taxpayers will see their tax bill decrease next year. That's right. A tax cut for everyone is already on the books.

In 2011 the state passed a record income tax increase on individuals. The rate was increased to 5 percent from 3 percent. But that increase is legally required to sunset to 3.75 percent in January 2015. But many individuals and special interest groups don't want that to happen.

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Bob Foys, for example, suggests that the state should play around with the flat rate income tax. His goal is to lower tax rates on some earners by increasing them on others. These efforts are unnecessary and generally not about tax relief -- they're about generating more revenue for the state.

As long as policy debates in Illinois focus on where and how to increase taxes versus making indiscriminate cuts in the budget, we won't be able to have an honest budget discussion in this state. It's time for Illinois to completely overhaul and modernize the way it spends money instead of using taxpayers as piggy banks. Common sense reforms can result in better outcomes and achieve significant budget savings.

Ben VanMetre

Senior budget and tax policy analyst

Illinois Policy Institute

Chicago

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