Why LWV supports graduated income tax
For 50 years, the League of Women Voters has supported a graduated rate or fair income tax for Illinois. Finally, in May of last year, the General Assembly agreed with us that the public deserves to vote on whether the state constitution should be amended to remove the requirement that income shall be taxed at a flat, non-graduated rate.
This change would permit higher incomes -- above $250,000 a year -- to be taxed at a higher rate, and lower incomes to be taxed at lower rates. As a result, 97% of Illinois tax filers would either get a tax cut or pay no more than they do now.
At the top of this November's general election ballot, voters will have the opportunity to fix our state's unfair, antiquated way of taxing income. All it takes is our votes. Why does the League believe that the principle of higher rates for higher incomes and lower rates for lower incomes is a truly fair tax?
The first reason is equity. Unlike the old way of taxing income, the Fair Tax is based on ability to pay. Currently, the bottom 20% of wage earners in Illinois pay twice the share of income in state and local taxes as the top wage earners. This is more than the lower wage earners would pay in any other Midwestern state.
Fair tax reform will help lift the burden from the middle class and those struggling to get to the middle class. Now more than ever, as the pandemic affects our state, we need a way to continue to help those most in need, and to have those with the most means lend a hand.
A fair tax system is also responsive. Good tax policy allows for flexibility to design revenue structures to fit economic reality. As the huge income gap between rich and poor continues to grow, taxing our highest wage earners at a rate proportionate to their means could more effectively access additional needed revenues
Fair tax reform would allow Illinois to invest in our priorities. The fair tax will raise additional revenues each year to help repair years of cuts to core services like education, health care, human services and public safety.
It will also help to pay down the state's backlog of unpaid bills. Instead of kicking the can down the road and passing mounting debt to future generations, fair tax reform provides a steady path to meet our obligations.
We urge every Illinois voter to learn more about Fair Tax reform and join the League of Women Voters of Illinois as we Vote Yes for Fair Tax in November.
• Allyson Haut is president of the League of Women Voters of Illinois, a member of Vote Yes for Fair Tax, a ballot committee of community organizations supporting Fair Tax reform.