Griffin attacks Pritzker as “master tax avoider.” Threatens to leave Illinois to avoid taxes.

Tax avoider, hedge funder Ken Griffin.

What can I say to convince my retired friends that the graduated tax amendment on the current ballot has nothing to do with taxing retirement benefits?

The tv ad campaign paid for by Citadel hedge fund boss and one of Illinois’ wealthiest people, Ken Griffin, got the jump on the pro-fair tax people in framing it this way.

It was always snake oil.

But Griffin gave the lie away by attacking Governor Pritzker as a “master tax avoider.” Pritzker ran for governor promising to put the amendment on the ballot and he has kept his word.

Griffin shouldn’t be so modest. When it comes to tax avoidance, Griffin is no less a master.

He has threatened that if the amendment passes he will move Citadel to Texas or Florida or wherever to avoid taxes.

Say what?

Shia Kappos in Politico:

“I am not willing to stand by as, once again, spineless politicians try to sell a trick disguised as a solution. Particularly not from a governor who, having inherited a great deal of wealth, has worked so diligently to avoid paying taxes himself,” Griffin wrote in an email obtained by the Tribune, which was verified by a company spokesman.

Griffin also offers a veiled threat that his company could leave Illinois for a place with friendlier tax rates. “Governors of Florida, Texas and other states have made compelling pitches for businesses — like Citadel — to leave Illinois,” he wrote.

If it passes, the amendment would change Illinois’ flat personal income tax system to one where wealthier residents pay a higher rate. Supporters say people who earn $250,000 or less make up 97 percent of Illinois residents, and would pay the same or less in taxes.

The impact on wealthy residents must be profound if you consider the eight-figure amount Griffin has spent just trying to defeat the ballot measure.

We are a week and a half away from the last voting day.

No doubt many retirees like me have already voted.

I hope they didn’t fall for Griffin’s baloney that the graduated tax is about retirement income being taxed.

It’s about billionaires being taxed.


7 thoughts on “Griffin attacks Pritzker as “master tax avoider.” Threatens to leave Illinois to avoid taxes.

  1. AMEN. The graduated income tax has turned into a political nightmare between two billionaires. The money that has been spent could have done a world of good rather than spending such an outlandish amounts on misleading commercials (Ken Griffin). Smaller income people do not have a chance against the likes of Ken Griffin backing the Illinois Policy Institute and Wire Points. Lower and Middle income cannot continue to carry the load for Illinois. Taxing pensions – isn’t that what the Illinois Policy Institute would like. What do they run on after the election? If Ken Griffin leaves does this mean the Illinois Policy employees are out of a job?

  2. What does it matter really to Ken Griffin to pay more in taxes? It’s all about power. He already has an obscene amount of money.

  3. And if he did leave, he’d have to start all over tagging his name on the walls of museums, institutes, and architectural sites of interest. Griffin has quite enough – more than enough – to provide in highlighting himself, but some family of five surviving in the pandemic without work and wondering how to pay taxes and buy food? Not so much. Not so much at all.


  4. I have also had friends worrying about a tax on their pensions. This is what I wrote one of them. He was convinced by my arguments. Would you add anything?
    “The Illinois Constitution now reads: “The General Assembly shall provide by law for the rate or rates of any tax on or measured by income imposed by the State. A tax on or measured by income shall be at a non-graduated rate. At any one time there may be no more than one such tax imposed by the State for State purposes on individuals and one such tax so imposed on corporations. “
    If the Constitutional Amendment passes, it will read: “The General Assembly shall provide by law for the rate or rates of any tax on or measured by income imposed by the State.”

    That’s it. No other changes. There is nothing in the amendment that refers to or changes anything regarding the ability of the State to raise taxes on pensions. The Constitution already allows for raising taxes on all income including pensions. Furthermore, it allows the State to keep a flat tax rate if it so chooses. The legislature, however, has already passed a graduated tax rate which will go into effect in January if the constitutional amendment is passed. If that happens, then just about everyone I know in Illinois will get some tax relief including most farmers (average income for farmers is way under $250,000), and revenue will be generated from people at the very high end of the income range. I am ok with that. We can’t cut services any more and the State needs to generate and increase revenue. Manufacturing is not coming back to the USA at a level to make a big difference either. We are now a service industry in Illinois (over 70% of business). I think a graduated tax system is better than a flat tax. And I would have no problem being taxed at a higher rate than I am now if I believe the tax system is fair. Right now, I think it is unfair to low-end people.
    If the amendment does not pass, then I expect the legislature will be forced to go after other ways of generating funds to run the State. I am pretty sure that will include taxing most, if not all, services (which is most of our business economy), which means you and I will be paying more tax for sure. Most services are taxed in all the states surrounding Illinois which include some very red states. And I expect there will be a new appetite from the legislature, now and in the future, to raise taxes on pensions from the right and left sides of the aisle—or raise the flat tax, which disproportionately affects people on the low end (since they pay a greater % of their income on all taxes put together), and local areas and counties will increase taxes on things like property tax and such (Charleston recently instituted a raise in local taxes to help our schools, for example). Seems to me, one way or another Illinois and our counties/towns will need to increase revenue. Who will be affected by tax increases and how is the issue. I think the graduated tax system on the table is a good start and puts us in line with most states in the USA.
    I am not sure where this fear of tax on our pensions comes from except that I know that some Dems in the present administration have expressed a consideration to examine the possibility of taxing high end pensioners. Taxing our pensions or reducing our pensions is not a talking point unique to some legislators in this administration and not unique to Democrats, Republicans, or otherwise. The Civic Federation, for example, was pushing for a tax on pensions during Rauner’s administration, though Rauner was against such a tax. And in my experience over the past couple decades, it has been Republicans and libertarians in general that have been the most vociferous about considering taxing or reducing pensions, though we saw what the Dems tried to do under the leadership of Dan Biss.
    When I am trying to make up my mind about an issue, one of the things I look at is who is supporting what side. It helps me hone-in on what their reasons might be and what the issues are. I got this from Ballotpedia and it only confirms my own suspicions and analysis:
    • AFSCME Illinois Council No. 31
    • American Federation of Teachers
    • Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois
    • Chicago Federation of Labor
    • Chicago Teachers Union
    • Illinois AFL-CIO
    • Illinois Education Association
    • Illinois Federation of Teachers
    • National Education Association
    • SEIU Healthcare Illinois
    • SEIU Illinois State Council
    • AARP
    • Chicago Jobs Council
    • Democracy for America
    • Equality Illinois
    • Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans
    • Illinois Economic Policy Institute
    • Indivisible Chicago Alliance
    • Indivisible Illinois
    • Latino Policy Forum
    • League of Women Voters of Illinois
    • Omidyar Network
    • Planned Parenthood Illinois Action
    • Sierra Club Illinois
    • Think Big Illinois
    • Greg Baise – Former President of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association
    • Jay Bergman – CEO of Petco Petroleum Corporation
    • Craig Duchossois – Executive Chair of the The Duchossois Group, Inc.
    • Kenneth Griffin – CEO of Citadel
    • Muneer Satter – Founder of Satter Investment Management
    • Timothy Schneider (R) – Chairperson of Illinois Republican Party
    • Richard Uihlein – CEO of Uline Corporation
    • Donald Wilson – CEO of DRW
    • Americans for Tax Reform
    • Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago
    • Ideas Illinois
    • Illinois Chamber of Commerce
    • Illinois Farm Bureau
    • Illinois Opportunity Project
    • Illinois State Black Chamber of Commerce
    • National Federation Of Independent Business Federal Political Action Committee
    • Technology and Manufacturing Association

    1. Gee…where’s the Illinois Policy Institute on the Opposed list? Pretending they’re neutral, so we should believe their “tax hike” commercials?

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