Vote for the Fair Tax or you’ll be paying more soon enough

If Illinois sticks with the current flat tax, everyone — not just the wealthiest among us — will pay more to resolve the state’s financial woes.

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The Rev. Michael Pfleger, of Saint Sabina Church on the South Side, joins dozens of other faith leaders to speak in support of the Fair Tax Amendment at a press conference on Oct. 6 2020.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Illinois law requires that all people to pay an income tax at the same percentage rate, a flat tax. If the proposed constitutional amendment on the Nov. 3 ballot passes, Illinois will move to a graduated income tax with multiple tax brackets. Thirty-two states and the federal government already have some form of graduated income tax.

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If the amendment passes, the income tax rate will be increased, according to a schedule already worked out in Springfield, only for those who make more than $250,000 a year. That means 3% of Illinois taxpayers will see a tax increase — and 97% won’t.

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Opponents of the amendment falsely claim that Springfield will gain more taxing authority. Springfield has always had the authority to raise your taxes, and they have done so in the past. With the current flat tax, everyone’s taxes are increased when additional revenue is needed. But under a graduated income tax system, the highest incomes could be singled out for an increase, with lower incomes being left alone.

Opponents also argue that retirement income will become taxable if the amendment passes. But AARP, which has endorsed the amendment, argues that, on the contrary, retirement incomes are more likely to be taxed if the amendment is voted down. And if at some point in the future retirement income were to be taxed, it is highly likely under a graduated tax system that only the highest retirement incomes would be taxed.

Illinois is broke. Additional revenue is needed. You can either vote yes on the amendment, and only people who make more than $250,000 will pay more in taxes. Or you can vote no and everyone’s taxes will have to be increased.

Mark Pellegrini, Plainfield

A third way on taxes

I have no problem with going from a flat tax to a graduated system. What I do have a problem with is enshrouding it in the state Constitution. Whatever you put in the Constitution may limit our prerogatives later. The U.S. Constitution does not codify how or the rate at which taxes will be imposed, and neither should the Illinois Constitution. Take out the provision that mandates a flat tax and leave it to the Legislature to enact taxes as the times merit.

Rick Bessette, Orland Park

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