Senator: Graduated, progressive tax is a fair tax

State Sen. Dave Koehler told an audience at East Bluff Community Center that legislation to change the state income tax from a flat rate of 4.95 percent to a graduated tax with higher rates on higher wage earners will mean, on average, 97 percent of residents of Illinois will pay the same or less than they currently pay.

Among residents in Koehler’s 46th Legislative District, 99.2 percent will pay the same or less. Among residents in Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth’s 92nd Legislative District, 99.1 will pay the same or less.

Illinois is one of just eight states with a flat income tax for all residents regardless of their income. Under the proposal, those earning more than $750,000 a year would pay the top rate, 7.99 percent.

“This is not a tax on the middle class,” Koehler said. “A flat tax is regressive, hurting lower income earners. The progressive tax is a fair tax.”

Illinois neighboring states Iowa and Wisconsin both have graduated income taxes. In addition to Illinois, states with a flat tax include Utah, Colorado, Indiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.

Koehler expects a constitutional amendment will be on the ballot in 2020 and will require 60 percent approval by the voters in order to be implemented in 2022.

Districts with high income earners like those in the Chicago collar counties have the greatest number of people earning more than $750,000.

The League of Women Voters of Illinois has studied the issue and supports a graduated income tax. Hilary Denk, League member, has written, “When all taxes are taken into account as a percentage of income, the tax burden on low and middle income families is much greater than on affluent families. A graduated rate income tax will help to balance this inequity, putting money back in the pockets of those most likely to spend it in the local economy on the services and goods their families need, stimulating the economy.”

To calculate your own income tax under the graduated plan, go to Gov. JB Pritzker’s web site and fill out the online calculator.

Sponsoring Koehler’s town hall meeting was Indivisible Peoria.

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