IL Progressive “Graduated Rate” Income Tax

Vote #NO in November

This November, Illinois taxpayers will be given an opportunity to vote to change our income tax system as currently provided by our Illinois Constitution. This would change the state income tax structure from the current flat tax rate to a graduated rate structure. The net effect of this change will increase state income taxes on middle income earners, small businesses, married couples, and add taxes on retirement income. We urge ALL VOTERS TO VOTE NO on this amendment.

Illinois’ high taxes are driving people and businesses out of state at record rates. IL taxpayers already pay the HIGHEST state and local taxes in the nation. After decades of no tax increases, since 2011 the Illinois legislature has twice voted to raise state income taxes. Illinoisans now pay 67% more in income taxes, on top of soaring property taxes, gas taxes, streaming and entertainment taxes, etc. As a result of high taxes and public corruption, Illinois has lost more taxpayers than all other states except New York and California. Despite this, Governor Pritzker wants the ability to raise our taxes again with his graduated income tax initiative that is on the November 3, 2020 ballot.

Under our Illinois Constitution, Illinoisans are taxed using a flat tax rate structure – which means that all taxpayers are treated equally and pay the same percentage of their income in state taxes. The current tax rate is 4.95%. Through his initiative, Governor Pritzker wants to change the Illinois income tax from a flat rate to a “graduated income rate” structure, where different income levels will be taxed unequally and at different rates. To do this requires changing the IL Constitution.

The Governor has promised this new tax structure would only increase taxes on taxpayers making over $250k (which includes most small businesses and many two-income families). The legislature has passed “suggested” new tax rates that show the new tax structure would bring in approximately $3.4B annually. However, what is actually on the ballot — that voters get to vote on — has no protections of the sort. This is what you will see on the ballot:


“The proposed amendment grants the State authority to impose higher income tax rates on higher income levels, which is how the federal government and a majority of other states do it. The amendment would remove the portion of the Revenue Article of the Illinois Constitution that is sometimes referred to as the “flat tax,” that requires all taxes on income to be at the same rate. The amendment does not itself change tax rates. It gives the State the ability to impose higher tax rates on those with higher income levels and lower income tax rates on those with middle or lower income levels. You are asked to decide whether the proposed amendment should become a part of the Illinois Constitution.” (emphasis added)


Missing in this amendment is any mention of tax rates, income brackets to be taxed or the frequency of tax increases allowed. Missing is any promise that lower and middle income families will not have their taxes increased — it just promises that those who earn more will have their income taxes go up more. Missing are protections against annual income tax increases under the Governor’s proposal. In fact, this proposal gives “The State” — i.e., the IL General Assembly (under the control of Mike Madigan) and the Governor — the freedom to increase IL income tax rates at any time and on any income level they want without a vote from the Illinois taxpayers. This is like giving them a blank check to your personal checkbook account.

Governor Pritzker is calling this IL Graduated/Progressive Income Tax “The Fair Tax”. He is spending $54 million dollars of his own money to market this new tax to the IL voters. He says it will only increase the income taxes of “the rich”. He’s made promises that middle income families will not have their taxes go up. He’s promised that this money will increase funding to education, and will help reduce our sky-high property taxes. He’s promised this will help increase pension funding.

This is simply not true. If this amendment passes, every Illinois family will eventually see their income taxes increase by 50% or more because Illinois needs money. A LOT of it. Much more than $3.4 Billion a year.

There’s at least a $10-12B deficit in the 2021 Illinois budget just enacted. And IL has the worst pension crisis in the nation with over $200 billion in unfunded liabilities. $3.4B won’t even cover half of the current year deficit much less make a dent in reducing property taxes or funding pensions.

Taxes will be going up on everyone, including retirees. Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs has already talked about the need to tax retirement income.

Every time our legislators raise our taxes, they promise to pay down the unpaid bills, fund pensions, reduce property taxes, etc. Yet today, our property taxes are higher, unfunded pension liabilities top $200B, and we still have billions in unpaid bills. Illinois doesn’t have a revenue problem… it has a pension funding and spending problem. We cannot trust our lawmakers to keep their promises.

One of the great benefits of our flat rate income tax structure is that it restricts the Illinois Legislature’s ability to raise our taxes — because taxes go up on everyone — and imposes some spending discipline on lawmakers. Adoption of a graduated rate structure will remove all those constraints and will, in fact, give them a blank check to spend whatever they want, and we will all pay for it.

If you’ve read the paper over the past few of months and seen the bribery scandals with Speaker Mike Madigan and many others, you know we can’t trust our lawmakers to put taxpayers’ interests before their own.

Enough is enough. No more fake promises. We can’t trust them with our money.

Vote No on the Illinois Graduated Income Tax on November 3rd.

Vote NO in November.