In response to the current debate on the merits of a graduated income tax for Illinois, we want to share with readers that on Sunday, Sept. 13, an 83 percent majority of those voting in the Special Meeting of the Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Oak Park voted to endorse the proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution that will be first on the ballot in November. This amendment will allow the state to implement a graduated income tax, also known as the Fair Tax amendment. 

We take this rare step as Unitarian Universalists because we believe that now is the time to bring our values of justice, equity, and compassion to the public sphere. Justice and compassion demand that all Illinoisans have access to high-quality education and other human services. Equity requires that those who benefit the most in our society, and those who are most able to pay, bear their fair share of the burden to fund those services. Taxation and budgets are how our values as a people become policy. Thus for us, a just and equitable system of taxation is a moral imperative.

But Illinois does not have a just and equitable system of taxation because its Constitution mandates a flat income tax. As a result, income inequality has increased as lower-income earners have had to bear a greater share of the tax burden. The state has made cuts to crucial services, denying many Illinoisans the lives of safety, dignity, and opportunity to which they are entitled. Predictably, these inequities disproportionately impact people of color, and the catastrophic coronavirus pandemic has only exposed and worsened these problems. 

The majority of our congregation who voted believes a graduated income tax is a necessary step toward creating a just, equitable, and compassionate society here in Illinois. Although the Illinois Constitution currently prohibits this fair and logical policy, Illinoisans have the chance to change that when they go to the polls on Nov. 3. If the Fair Tax amendment passes, Illinois will join the federal government and 32 other states, including most neighboring states, in implementing a more fair and equitable income tax. We encourage all Illinoisans to vote “Yes” for the Fair Tax. 

Willa Shultz, 

President, Board of Trustees

Unity Temple Congregation

Oak Park

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