A new twist on doing state income taxes this year involved River Forest’s red-light cameras at Harlem and North avenues. My expected $400 refund from Illinois was hijacked by River Forest for two tickets at that intersection. I got a letter from the state saying some new law has them holding refunds for local governments who say they are owed. 

Another classic moment in Illinois taxing. I have never been a fan of the red-light program, but this letter was a surprise because I had never received a ticket in the mail. After digging around on the River Forest website, I was able to finally find what they wanted money for. It was two tickets, from a year ago, when my son was driving the family car. 

Several things about this are wrong. First off, if the red light program is about safety, my son was doing something unsafe and no one tells us for a year? How can any corrective action take place? It can’t. If an officer issued a ticket, everyone would know about it, but no ticket is seen, so no lesson learned. 

Did my son perhaps hide the tickets from me? He never knew he even got a ticket. Let alone a second one. Somehow River Forest knows my address now but did not back in April when these tickets happened? How does that happen? River Forest clearly wants to make money from these tickets. But if they do not mail you a ticket, they can then jack up the fee by a couple hundred percent so they make even more money. 

So their strategy may very well be to issue these tickets in a sloppy way and increase their revenue. Try to defend yourself from that. It is impossible to prove you never got a ticket in the mail when it happens to you. 

Finally, income tax in Illinois is now tied to moving violations in a car driven by other people, not involved in earning the income being taxed. Yes it was my son and it was my car, but this is going to be happening to other people around here. 

The red-light program has nothing at all to do with safety.

Tom MacMillan 

Oak Park 

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