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WAIT - Don’t let this mind-numbing subject run you off – the op-ed will be sarcastic if nothing else.
DISCLAIMER - I decided to write about the “Fair-Tax” proposal, which Illinois votes upon November 3rd. Somebody had to. Research was greatly needed on my part for a pretense of a clue before I shot my mouth off. Just the thought of investigating this made my sleep apnea flare up.
We’ve been barraged by confusing ads on television praising the merits, both for and against the tax. (Could anyone but a politician be FOR a tax?) It’s easy to come to the conclusion if Governor Pritzker is for something, then I’m against it. The man has a lot of audacity doing anything with our tax system considering his scheme to remove commodes from his neighboring mansion in order to elude $331,000 in taxes. (Although in his defense, that is a ridiculous amount of tax to own any home.)
Being against something because Gov Commodes is for it is probably irrational for something as important as the tax money being siphoned off by the government. Even I wouldn’t stoop that low. So, I dug deeper.
STRIKE ONE - Here’s some fuzzy logic - by “lowering” our taxes with the Fair Tax, Commodes claims he’s going to magically collect $3 billion more in revenue. Currently, Illinois has a 4.95% flat tax on income, constitutionally mandated since 1969. Commodes would eliminate this tax to implement a graduated tax up to 7.75% for the wealthy, using that tiresome Democratic axiom “the rich don’t pay enough taxes!” I’m starting to get skeptical.
So, we pay less tax but the state rakes in more? What if wealthy people and business owners move to warmer climates and/or take their business across state lines? Our population has declined five consecutive years – where is this extra money to come from, if everyone that can, moves out? Is Commodes planning an “exit” tax?
A good source of information about the proposed tax is a non-profit organization called the Illinois Policy Institute. They don’t just complain about Illinois - like I do - they actually have a plan to repair Illinois’ financial situation in five years, called Illinois Forward. It can be found at: www.illinoispolicy.org/reports/illinois-forward.
FOUL BALL - According to IPI, Commodes claims “there are three ways to close the state’s $4.6 billion deficit;”
1. “A federal COVID bailout,” which won’t and shouldn’t happen under Trump. Why should residents from Arizona, for example, be responsible for Illinois’ history of bad government? How many of you want to bail California out?
2. “Substantial tax hikes” – Why does every Democrat think if only we would give them more money, they will spend it better than us? How have Illinois politicians done so far with spending our money – we’re ranked the least tax-friendly state in the country by Kiplinger. What do we have to show for all that tax money?
3. Or, there’s their standard ominous warning – “slash government services.” Bureaucrats love to scare us with this rhetoric. As Ronald Reagan stated, “the problem is not that people are taxed too little, the problem is that government spends too much.” Hey Commodes, slash them – we’ll adjust.
Commodes claims high property taxes are a result of the flat income tax. IPI refutes this, correctly pointing out the culprit is unfunded pension liabilities for schools and municipalities. We’re drowning in the interest from that debt. You might want to go back and read that last paragraph again.
STRIKE TWO - Pritzker is so sure this tax law needs amending he has pumped $57 million of his own money into marketing it. That sets off all sorts of bells and whistles in my rum-addled noggin. He’s worth $3.5 billion, and allegedly avoids taxes with various offshore accounts, so why would he spend another pallet of cash to change a tax law that has nothing to do with the bathrooms in his houses?
Folks, I’m not a numbers man – I’m a singer in a rock and roll band from Chebanse. On a scale of 1-10 concerning tax or accounting aptitude, with ten being expert, I rank about 2.5. Investigation on the pros and cons not only made me drowsy, but more jaded. I may have drool on my keyboard, but now clearly understand that;
a) retirees will be vulnerable under the new fair tax, regardless of how much politicians tell you otherwise;
b) economies in other states were hurt by the fair tax because people with money took their money elsewhere; and
c) extra money earmarked for education will go mostly for pensions.
STRIKE THREE - do you trust any knucklehead in Springfield to do anything that benefits us? What have politicians done but made us an over-taxed laughing stock and plundered this state for fifty years? Ya think they intend to change now? Might Springfield have ulterior motives…again?
We Illinoisans may be Chicago’s red-headed step kid, but if we have something in our State Constitution protecting us from the goons in Springfield, which includes our current tax rate, it might be in our best interest to stick with it for now. If history is our guide, different tax laws won’t be in the best interest of anyone outside Chicago.
HIT THE BENCH! - The proposal has a “bait and switch” feel to it, folks. We shouldn’t change tax laws right now, especially after the unlawful lock downs for COVID.
Say No on the Fair Tax.