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Illinois Policy Institute/ Joe Kaiser

Gov. J.B. Pritzker claims his progressive income tax will only affect the rich. But Illinoisans making as little as $26,100 would see an income tax hike under rates Pritzker cited in his budget address.

Though Gov. J.B. Pritzker has mentioned Wisconsin and Iowa as models for a fairer income tax, the typical Illinois family in St. Clair County would pay nearly $400 more in taxes each year with either of those states’ income tax rates.

A median income family with two children making $68,481 in St. Clair County pays $2,994 under Illinois’ current flat tax. But if Illinois adopted Iowa’s progressive rate structure, that tax bill would jump to $3,338. It would jump even higher, to $3,369, under Wisconsin’s.

Calling the rate structure a “fair tax,” Pritzker cited these two states in his 2019 budget address as examples for Illinois to follow. Specifically, he said Illinois “can accomplish” a progressive income tax with a “more competitive rate structure than Wisconsin and Iowa,” though it’s unclear how he’s defining competition. Middle-income taxpayers in St. Clair County – already dealing with high property taxes and an income tax just hiked in 2017 – might not agree that yet another tax hike is either fair or competitive.

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Experts second that. A recent Tax Foundation study on Wisconsin’s tax code went so far as to recommend exchanging its progressive income tax for a flat income tax as one way to make the state more competitive. This is a move both North Carolina and Kentucky have made in recent years.

Pritzker’s “fair tax” isn’t the only progressive-tax idea floating around in Springfield that should have middle-class taxpayers worried, either. Another progressive income tax proposal introduced in 2017 would have raised income taxes on Illinoisans earning as little as $17,300 a year.

With either proposal, the middle class gets hit hard, despite Pritzker’s fairness rhetoric. Illinois families cannot afford another tax hike, and it certainly wouldn’t be fair to push one on them.

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