Drivers' fees, taxes spiking in 2020 to pay for roads, infrastructure
Two suburbanites at a secretary of state facility in Lombard last week took opposite views on a looming hike in vehicle registration fees to pay for infrastructure.
"It's fine. We need to repair the roads ... there's a lot of potholes," Addison driver Gloria Carlson said.
But Mark Tuttle thinks increasing car registrations from $101 to $151 on Jan. 1 is wrong. "I feel we're way overtaxed in this state to begin with. If the government was run correctly, there would be no need for this tax," said Tuttle, a former Lombard resident.
As we raise our glasses to 2020, the state will be raising a slew of fees and taxes to generate cash for a $45 billion capital program spearheaded by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. About $33 billion goes to fund highways, bridges and transit. The other $12 billion is for "vertical" projects ranging from playground upgrades to broadband access to improving schools and universities.
The "Rebuild Illinois" capital program "will make roads in every corner of the state safer. A variety of revenue sources will be solely dedicated to fixing our crumbling infrastructure, putting over half a million people to work and revitalizing communities across Illinois," Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said.
What will cost more next year?
• Vehicle registrations jump by $50 for conventional cars and SUVs. Most truck registrations rise by $100.
• Electric vehicle registrations soar to $251 from $35.
• Gas taxes already went up by 19 cents a gallon this year to help pay for the capital program. In 2020, the cost per gallon will increase by the consumer price index effective July 1, 2020. That's part of an annual adjustment tied to the CPI.
• Parking spaces on lots not owned by state or municipal governments will pay a tax ranging from 6% for hourly, daily or weekly users to 9% for monthly and yearly customers.
• Tax credits for trade-ins when buying a new car or SUV will be capped at $10,000. Pickup trucks, however, are exempt.
Green car expert John Walton of Wheaton thinks the spike in electric vehicle registrations is fair considering Tesla, Leaf and Volt owners aren't paying any gas taxes as typical drivers do. If an electric car owner "drove 10,000 to 15,000 miles a year, it would still work out to be about even," said Walton, chairman of Chicago Area Clean Cities.
Meanwhile, the trade-in issue will creep up on unsuspecting consumers just as the car-buying season kicks into gear come February, said Gregg Webb, owner of Packey Webb Ford in Downers Grove.
"When the general public finds out what the state is doing, there's going to be an uproar -- but what are they going to do about it at this point?" he asked.
Currently, someone with an older car assessed at $20,000 who trades it in for a $36,000 model gets a tax credit on the original vehicle's value and pays tax on the difference -- $16,000, in this case.
As of Jan. 1, that would be capped at $10,000, so the same owner faces a tax on $26,000. If the sales tax is 6.25%, the 2019 payment would be $1,000 compared to $1,625 in 2020.
However, the Illinois Department of Revenue notes that the average trade-in amount was $9,398 in 2018.
"Illinois had gone nearly a decade without a comprehensive plan to repair the roads and bridges we all rely on," Abudayyeh said. Pro or con on what you'll pay for infrastructure? Drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You should know
Need a jolt of caffeine this Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve? Coffee is free at 7-Eleven and McDonald's locations in Illinois tollway oases. The agency anticipates about 1.5 million vehicles on its system Christmas Eve and 1.4 million on New Year's Eve, compared to norms of 1.6 million.
Fly like a reindeer
The worst day to fly through O'Hare and Midway international airports? You dodged a bullet -- it was Friday, the Chicago Department of Aviation announced. But if you're traveling over the holiday, arrive early at O'Hare on Jan. 3 when hordes are expected. Midway's second busiest day will be Jan. 4. About 5 million passengers are expected at both airports between Christmas and New Year's, a 2.5% bump up from 2018.
One more thing
If you're heading home early Tuesday, Metra will run early trains on most routes, but that could mean some rush-hour cancellations. To check schedules go to metrarail. Meanwhile, the railroad is offering holiday passes at $5 for unlimited rides Tuesday and Wednesday. Family fares run through Jan. 3, allowing up to three children age 11 and younger to ride free with a paying adult.