33rd Senate District candidates discuss whether flat-rate income tax should be kept

The two candidates seeking the state District 33 Senate seat differ on whether Illinois should stop charging a flat income-tax rate and implement a graduated rate that would increase as a person's income increases.

Democrat Nancy Zettler of Algonquin said before implementing a graduated income tax, the state must determine what it wants to accomplish with any increase in taxes it might bring in. Her support would also depend on specific details in a proposal, such as the determination of income brackets.

Still, she does not like the current flat tax, nor the contention that Democrats want to increase taxes so they can spend more.

"To say people (legislators) are going to start raising taxes like crazy all over the place is to ignore the history of this state from 1970, which has stubbornly maintained a regressive flat tax which has ultimately hurt the people of this state and caused our property taxes to be exorbitantly high," Zettler said.

Her opponent, Republican Sen. Don DeWitte of St. Charles, said he would oppose any effort to increase any income tax.

He noted a Democratic state representative introduced legislation in 2017 to create a graduated tax, ranging from 4 percent for incomes of $7,500 or less, up to 7.65 percent for earners reporting $225,000 or more. The largest bracket would be for people making $15,000 to $225,000. The bill was tabled by its sponsor, Ralph Martwick, in April.

Zettler called the bill "irrelevant," and said she would not vote for it in its current state.

"If it is so irrelevant, why did Martwick introduce it? It is definitely a shot across the bow," DeWitte said.

There would have to be a statewide referendum to eliminate the flat tax. Lawmakers can only increase and decrease the rate. But, DeWitte said, they could essentially create a graduated tax by raising the flat rate, then introducing various credits and exemptions.

Senate District 33 includes parts of Huntley, Lake in the Hills, Algonquin, Elgin, South Elgin, St. Charles, Geneva and Batavia. reports a median household income of $89,200 for the district.

Nancy Zettler: Candidate profile

Donald P. DeWitte: Candidate profile

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