A reader asks, “How can those of us not paying Illinois income tax say a whole lot about changing it?”

I assume my reader is referring to the fact that state pensions are not taxed.

So this is a good question.

Here are four reasons why every Illinois citizen should support a progressive income tax. And why everyone has a right to speak out on the issue.

1. The current system in which the very rich and those who earn the very least are taxed at the same rate is not fair and is poor public policy. Why should a housekeeper at the Hyatt Regency hotel, who barely earns enough to meet her obligations from paycheck to paycheck, pay the same rate of state taxes as Penny Pritzker, the multi-millionaire heiress whose family owns the hotel?

2. The current system of taxation has led Illinois to be among the lowest taxing and lowest spending states in the entire country. The current system does not allow the state to meet its current expenses, let alone address the growing social needs of its citizens. This creates a drag on the entire state’s economy.

3. As for retired state employees who no longer pay state income tax – but did over the course of their careers – the inability of the state to raise adequate revenue is the cause of the $100 billion dollar pension liability. For years the state did not bother to meet their pension payment obligations. It spent our pension money rather than raise taxes. At the same time they were giving tax breaks to giant corporations.

4. Suggesting that current retirees – because we do not presently pay a state income tax on our pensions – should have no voice in public or tax policy runs counter to my understanding of how democracy works.

Perhaps this is a question because we live in Illinois and are not accustomed to democracy.

But we don’t have a poll tax here. You don’t have to pay to speak.

Even though sometimes you have to pay to play.

9 thoughts on “A reader asks, “How can those of us not paying Illinois income tax say a whole lot about changing it?”

  1. Both the Report of the State Budget Crises Task Force(page 12 lead by Paul Volker and paid for with our tax dollars) and The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability recommend taxing 168 special services in addition to a progressive tax. Neither include but rather exclude taxing retirement money. Amazing to me that the state paid for the answer using
    the former chairman of the Federal Reserve but chose to try to do the wrong thing anyway. Perpetuating the stereotype of Illinois Politicians as slimy and greedy. We use to be known for our mobsters until they all went into state government . Any comment Fred?

    • The retiree must direct TRS to take out the money & send it to the state of residence, if that state has a pension tax. Michigan, for instance, now taxes public pensions of those born after 1945 at 4.25% after the first $20,000, if one is a full-time resident of MI. They had a reciprocal agreement with IL for years which exempted the tax on pensions; but that all changed last year with a new governor and legislature.

      • Cindy, this is the info I have been searching for. What a change for us who now live in MI and have to pay this MI tax. Thanks for the info. Any additional info will be appreciated.
        Rich

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