State fails to pass Fair Tax amendment


Emily Pasley, Lamp writer

The Illinois Fair Tax, proposed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, was defeated by voters Nov. 3. Needing 60 percent of the vote, only 45 percent of voters favored the idea of moving from a flat-tax rate to a graduated tax rate.

After years of broken promises by the state, many Illinoisans distrust Pritzker and other state leaders.

“They always make all these plans and promises, but it just never ends up happening,” said 19-year Illinois resident Kenzie Brown.

“The state broke their promises of property tax reforms and pension reforms. So why should we believe it this time?”

The amendment aimed to raise taxes on wealthy individuals while lowering taxes for low and middle-income families. With the defeat, Illinois will remain with a flat 4.95 percent tax rate, meaning that minimum wage workers and billionaires are taxed at the same rate. The Fair Tax would would have created income brackets, charging tax rates from 4.75 percent to 7.99 percent.

The tax rate would have increased significantly for those making over $250,000.

“Illinois would have some of the country’s highest income taxes, particularly on businesses,” according to the Tax Foundation, an independent tax policy nonprofit.

This concerns voters because Illinois is notorious for businesses constantly coming and going. Being a business owner is difficult enough, and having a sudden, large increase in taxes could potentially destroy them.

Contrary to Illinois, neighboring states such as Indiana, Missouri, and Iowa have been lowering their tax rates, particularly for businesses, according to the Tax Foundation. If the Fair Tax had passed, Illinois would have gone in the opposite direction of its neighbors.

However, the defeat leaves the state with major budget issues. The current year’s deficit is $6 billion, the state has $8 billion in unpaid bills and the state’s pension debt exceeds $100 billion.

“The state is in so much debt; they need income,” said Illinois native, Alan Pasley, in regards to Pritzker’s plan.

Gov. Pritzker said the only option will be cuts without the additional revenue.

Some politicians have also proposed an increase in the flat-tax rate. However, the governor’s efforts to find a solution appear sidelined in the headlines by national politics and the state’s response to coronavirus.