Illinois voters to decide income tax system

IFB opposes amendment.

By Kay Shipman

Illinois’ method to tax income will be decided by Illinois voters after the House of Representatives passed Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment (SJRCA) 1.

On Memorial Day, the measure received 73 yes and 44 no votes, more than the 71 votes required for a supermajority. The Senate passed SJRCA 1 May 1. The constitutional question will appear on the November 2020 ballot because no further legislative action is required. The language will ask voters to allow any type of income tax (graduated, non-graduated or a combination of both). 

“Illinois Farm Bureau members do not support a progressive income tax. It is bad policy for farmers, for economic development in rural areas and for Illinois,” said Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr. “Once implemented, this proposal will make it easier for the General Assembly to increase income taxes in the future. The State of Illinois needs to address its out-of-control spending habits, not just raise taxes. It needs to pay its bills even during difficult financial times, just like farmers are struggling to do now. I will be voting no on the constitutional amendment in November 2020 and will work to educate all Illinois voters to do the same.”

IFB opposed SJRCA 1 and asked farmers to contact their legislators in the Senate and the House.

Currently, Article IX of the Illinois State Constitution stipulates an income tax may be established at a nongraduated rate, said Kevin Semlow, IFB director of state legislation. 

Semlow explained a state constitutional amendment may be approved – if it receives a majority from those who vote in the election or three-fifths of the votes cast on the specific amendatory language.

However, the proposed amendment authorizes changing the type of rate but does not stipulate what those rates would be, Semlow noted. Those rates will be established in legislation. 

Pending proposed rates contained in SB 687 are on the House floor and require a simple majority for passage.

“The General Assembly could act on SB 687 or adopt a different bill at a later date to establish a progressive income tax structure,” Semlow said.

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