We are supporting the fair tax amendment on the November ballot precisely because, as Richard J. Willis wrote, “simple fairness dictates that the government must not raise taxes on families struggling to pay their bills.” [‘Fair tax’ or ‘blank check’, Viewpoints July 8].
A Yes vote on the constitutional amendment removes two sentences that locked the state into an antiquated, unfair, flat income tax. New, graduated tax rates have been set by the legislature to take effect only if the voters approve the change.
The fair tax will mean that only those earning over $250,000 will see any increase in their state income taxes. Families struggling to pay their bills, along with 97 percent of taxpayers, will see a tax reduction or pay the same as they do now. That sounds fair to us.
The fair tax will mean ending the injustice of having the highest income earners pay about 7 percent of their income in state and local taxes while the lowest and the middle income earners pay a rate twice as high, up to 14 percent.
The state of Illinois has a revenue problem, not a spending problem. Under both Democratic and Republican leadership, years of an inadequate state tax structure led to underfunding K-12 education, dropping from paying half of the costs down to one-fourth, resulting in the most inequitable school system in the nation, where a family’s zip code determines the quality of a child’s education and local property owners shoulder an increasing burden.
Years without a state budget, on top of the inadequate state tax structure, led to the undermining of mental health care, domestic violence shelters, drug and alcohol addiction treatment, child welfare services, developmental disability support, and senior services for our most vulnerable families.
Higher education has been gutted, environmental protection neglected, and health-care delivery systems strained under both Democratic and Republican leadership, traceable to decades of an inadequate state tax structure.
Now with COVID-19, many families are hard-hit by illness, job losses, and housing and food insecurity. The fair tax asks only those who have annual income above $250,000 to pitch in to help those who need stabilization and support services as we move into a healthier economy.
So we need additional revenues in our state as we continue to work to repair the state’s fiscal condition. By adopting a graduated-rate income tax — the same taxing structure used by the majority of other states and the federal government — with rates comparable to many of our neighboring states, we can begin to re-invest and re-build Illinois without asking any more from 97 percent of Illinois taxpayers.
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization that does not support candidates for office. We are voter rights advocates who encourage the informed and active participation of citizens in government and work to increase understanding of major public policy issues. LWV of Illinois has been a proponent of the graduated-rate income tax since the 1970s.
Members of the League of Women Voters Illinois fair tax advocacy group