Republicans: Graduated Tax Removes Barriers to Raising Taxes on the Middle Class

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State Capitol – House Republicans want a constitutional amendment that would require a super majority to pass a tax increase. This was already proposed by Sen Dan McConhie (R) but neither has a chance to pass with the Democrats controlling both the House and Senate with large majorities.

What the Republicans hope to do is bring attention to the ability of state government to change a law in the future that would lower the income threshold that Gov Pritzker is currently proposing. Under the Governor’s plan, no one would pay more state income taxes until they earned $250,000.

Currently, the tax on everyone is the same rate, because the Illinois constitution spells out a flat tax. Supporters of the flat tax note that the wealthy pay more than lower income earners, because their 4.95% [the current tax rate on income] on a high income, equals a much larger tax bill than the same 4.95% on a low income. Someone earning $1,000,000 a year under the flat tax would pay $49,500 in taxes while a worker making $30,000 would pay just under $1500. So the Republicans say the rich under the flat tax already pay more.

But Gov Pritzker argues the state constitution should be changed so that the rich are taxed at a higher percentage of income. According to his plan, only those earning over $250,000 a year would see an increase in taxes, while – he argues – 97% of taxpayers would see a slight lowering of taxes.

Yet the Republicans say once you do away with the constitutional limitations on tax RATES, it would be too easy to vote to change those rates – or seek new tax deductions, as we see being done at the federal level, that has a graduated rate of taxation on incomes.

With overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate, the legislature WILL vote to place a Constitutional Amendment proposal on the November 2020 ballot. But the voters must approve that before a change to the state constitution can pass. Republicans hope then can convince the voters that this would damage the state’s economy, and that a graduated income tax can always be changed to bring more taxpayers under higher tax rates.

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