Some Democrats raise concerns as Illinois House eyes progressive tax package

The Illinois House Revenue and Finance Committee could take up a package of bills Thursday centered on allowing a progressive income tax structure in Illinois. Illinois News Network

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The Illinois House Revenue and Finance Committee could take up a package of bills Thursday centered on allowing a progressive income tax structure in Illinois.

Some statehouse Democrats have raised concerns about the package of bills the Senate sent their way. The package includes the proposed income tax rates, the repeal of Illinois’ estate tax, a limited property tax freeze and the proposed constitutional amendment that would change the state’s existing flat income tax to a graduated one that taxes those who earn more at higher rates.

Republicans, who are in the minority in both the House and Senate, want guarantees that the proposed rates either won’t change or won’t be easy to change.

State Rep. Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton, who was opposed to a progressive tax, resigned Tuesday. Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who based his campaign and subsequent spending plans on having a progressive income tax in Illinois, selected Costello for a job with the Department of Natural Resources. Democratic Party leaders will pick Costello’s replacement.

But there are other Democrats on the fence, including state Rep. Rita Mayfield, D-Waukegan.

“Personally, I like a flat tax, that’s just my personal opinion,” Mayfield said. “I do understand the need for a graduated tax, but if we’re going to do it, we need to do it right and not just push through something that is not going to benefit the taxpayers.”

State Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, said he supports the progressive tax plan, but not the repeal of the estate tax repeal, which the Senate sent over as a package with the progressive tax.

“It’s my view that we should do the fair tax, and we should pass rates that are equitable and that we shouldn’t get involved on repealing the estate tax on the very wealthy,” Guzzardi said.

The measures have been moved to the House Revenue and Finance Committee with a hearing set for Thursday morning.

The package includes a rate structure that differs from the one Pritzker proposed in March. Pritzkers’ top income tax rate only kicked in for those making $1 million or more. The Senate passed a structure that has the top rate of 7.99 for individuals making $750,000 or more.

Everett Wealth Solutions President Chris Everett said taxpayers hoping to save more for retirement being asked for higher taxes need to see the state spend responsibly, or she said rates could change on them.

“Are [lawmakers] also going to be fiduciaries and be responsible and cut back on some things that are ridiculous or not?” Everett said. “If they do, maybe we won’t see it go higher for those $750,000 and above. If they don’t, I would think they’re going to go higher.”

Republicans want to make sure lawmakers can’t pass tax increases with simple majorities. State Rep. Lindsay Parkhurst, R-Kankakee, said the idea of requiring a two-thirds vote for tax increases is simple.

“They need to make sure the rates are constitutionally protected by supporting a two-thirds vote to change the rates in the future,” Parkhurst said.

Republicans filed a similar proposal in the Senate, but the measure hasn’t advanced.

Illinois News Network

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