Hedge funder billionaire Ken Griffin is spending $50 million on ads targeting seniors. The lie repeated again and again on TV is that the graduated tax amendment would tax retirement income.
It is a lie that would make Donald Trump blush.
It disappoints me that the Illinois Retired Teachers Association has gone mute on the issue, refusing to support the graduated income tax amendment. My own local unit of IRTA, the North Lake Shore IRTA, has broken ranks with the state IRTA and our board has voted to support it.
Meanwhile other organizations representing Illinois retirees are speaking out to support a graduated income tax.
During a virtual news conference Wednesday retirees from around the state were urged to support the graduated income tax amendment and ignore scare ads that retirement income will be taxed.
Wendy Edington, a retiree from Rock City who volunteers with AARP Illinois said, “The graduated income tax would not allow the state to tax retirement income and it does not make it easier to tax retirement income in the future”
She said it “makes me angry when I see those millionaires and billionaires spreading rumors” about the effects of the graduated income tax.
Former Illinois Department on Aging Director Charles Johnson is also an AARP Illinois volunteer. He said the organization adamantly opposes taxing retirement income, but supports the graduated income tax amendment.
“I’m deeply concerned about the misinformation being spread around about the amendment,” Johnson said. “Switching to a graduated tax does not allow the state to tax retirement income. Under the graduated income tax, only those who can afford to will pay more.”
Johnson said that if the graduated tax doesn’t pass and provide extra income to the state, that’s when “lawmakers may be forced to consider a retirement tax.”
Ending the current flat tax would mean that the highest rates apply to the highest incomes. Under the rate structure approved by the General Assembly, only people making $250,000 or more a year would pay more in income taxes.
97% of income earners would see no change.
That puts the extra tax on the 3% of Illinois’ wealthiest people.
Opponents of the graduated tax have aired ads scaring my fellow seniors that the amendment grants new powers to the state to tax retirement income or that it will be easier to tax retirement income in the future.
There will be no such new powers.
Let me remind my fellow retired friends that the legislature doesn’t need a constitutional amendment to tax retirement income. It could do that now without the amendment.
No legislator has introduced a bill to tax retirement income – I think because it would be political suicide – and the governor opposes taxing retirement income.
Don Todd, president of the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans cited an ad as an example of the scare tactic. It featured a woman who says she is a grandmother who says she won’t be able to afford to live in Illinois if the amendment passes because it will tax her retirement.
I keep hearing from those who refer to Treasurer Mike Frerichs who last summer said retirement income could be taxed if the amendment is approved.
Frerichs was talking about taxing very high pension incomes when he spoke to a chamber of commerce group.
Plus Treasure Frerichs does not make law. Only the legislature can vote to pass a bill taxing retirement income.
Carmen Batances of Chicago, a member of Jane Addams Seniors in Action, said the flat tax “disproportionately harms low income communities of color in Illinois.”
“Many of our children are overtaxed with the flat tax,” she said. “I demand the false advertisements made to scare seniors be taken down immediately.”