Revenue Policy

Released February 2, 2021

Part of the federal economic stimulus created under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, involved increasing the tax relief businesses could claim under the existing net operating loss and excess business loss tax breaks. Among other things, the Cares Act made these tax cuts retroactive, meaning businesses can claim losses and reduce their tax liability for years in which the pandemic had no impact on their profitability. CTBA provides reasoning for supporting decoupling from Federal CARES Act Tax Breaks.

Released October 1, 2020

On November 3rd, 2020, Illinois voters will have the opportunity to ratify the proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution that would eliminate the mandate that state income taxes be assessed using only one flat rate.

This is a crucial moment for Illinois since it has historically been, and currently remains, one of the most unfair taxing states in the nation. From a textbook standpoint, an “unfair” tax system is a regressive tax system—that is, one that imposes a greater tax burden on low- and middle-income families than on affluent families, when tax burden is measured as a percentage of income.  It is unfair because such a system fails to allocate tax burden in a manner that correlates with ability to pay, thereby worsening the substantial growth in income inequality that has occurred in the private sector over the last four decades. But building fairness into a state tax system is difficult, given that every tax—or fee for that matter—which is available to fund public services provided at the state or local level is regressive except for one: the income tax.  The income tax is the only tax that can actually be designed to comport with ability to pay and hence create some tax fairness, because it is the only tax that can be designed to assess higher tax rates on higher levels of income, and lower rates on lower levels of income.

Unfortunately, Article IX, Section 3 of the Illinois Constitution mandates that the state income tax be imposed at one flat rate across all levels of income. Hence, Illinois is constitutionally prohibited from utilizing the income tax to play the essential tax policy role of offsetting the natural regressivity of every other tax and fee imposed at either the state or local level. In fact, Illinois’ inability to build some fairness into its tax system through implementation of a graduated rate income tax has played a major role in driving the ongoing deficits in the state’s General Fund, while also hampering private sector economic growth.  The good news is a genuine opportunity for meaningful reform of the Illinois income tax now exists. That is because on June 5, 2019, Governor Pritzker signed Public Act 101-0008 (“P.A. 101-0008”) into law. If implemented, this legislation will create a new, graduated rate income tax structure, frequently referred to as the “Fair Tax” by proponents, to replace the state’s current flat rate income tax.

To learn more about how the Fair Tax not only ties income tax burden to ability to pay, but also raises new revenue in a manner that will effectively help eliminate some of the long-term structural flaws that have consistently made Illinois’ overall tax system one of the most unfair and poorly performing in the nation, please read the new CTBA Report, “Implementing the “Fair Tax” Will Help the Illinois Fiscal System Respond Better to the Modern Economy While Promoting Tax Fairness.”

Released October 21, 2019

The state of Illinois faces a significant structural deficit into the future. The report highlights the nature of the structural deficit and identifies two key causes: the state’s historically flawed  tax policy and the plan devised for repayment of Illinois’ pension debt. CTBA proposes both the adoption of the Fair Tax and a reamortization of the pension debt as described in the report titled: Addressing Illinois’ Pension Debt Crisis With Reamortization. Doing so would allow the State to ensure full funding for the Evidence Based Funding Formula while also improving the status of Illinois’ public employee pension system and eliminating the State’s structural deficit by 2042.

Released May 22, 2019

The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (CTBA) released a report, How a Graduated Rate Income Tax Would Help Reduce After-Tax Income Inequality in Illinois, which shows that the implementation of a graduated rate income tax can reduce the regressivity of Illinois’ state and local tax system

Released May 22, 2019

Since 1979, the nation has seen a rapid and significant increase in income inequality between low- and middle-income Americans on the one hand, and the wealthiest one percent on the other.

Released April 30, 2018

This report makes the case for a graduated rate state income tax in Illinois, and illustrates two possible rate structures that would accomplish each of three major objectives:

Released November 14, 2017

On October 11, 2017, the Cook County Board of Commissioners voted to repeal a penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages.

Released February 16, 2016

In both magnitude and meaning, state elected officials have no greater obligation than passing a General Fund budget into law. Consider magnitude first. Last fiscal year the General Fund budget provided for the expenditure of $35 billion. No question, that constitutes a sizeable expenditure of taxpayer money. It is also meaningful. While nearly $11 billion was targeted for Hard Costs like debt service and other legally mandated payments, over $24 billion was invested in current services across communities statewide. In fact, over 90 percent of FY2015 General Fund expenditures on services covered education (35 percent), healthcare (30 percent), human services (21 percent), and public safety (7 percent). To be clear, it is those services which provide for the basic health and well-being of the citizenry, and go to the very heart of why we elect a Governor and General Assembly in the first place.

By failing to pass a General Fund budget for FY2016, elected officials are basically punting the following difficult, but fundamental, responsibilities to: 

  • Make decisions about how to allocate scarce resources among the aforesaid four service priorities;
  • Identify which of, and by how much, those services will be cut, despite their high priority, if the state’s current woeful fiscal condition is not addressed; or
  • Raise the tax revenue needed to fund those core services to the amounts needed to satisfy demographically driven demand.

 

Released October 23, 2015

This report compares the structures of severance taxes in other states and analyzes the potential benefits of instituting a coal severance tax in Illinois.

Released September 9, 2015

This Report offers a solution to Illinois' longstanding fiscal shortcomings. There are a number of common sense, data-driven initiatives that will modernize the tax code—and still keep Illinois relatively low tax. The Report details how changes to Illinois' tax policy, primarily to its income and sales taxes, and re-amortizing its pension debt can completely eliminate its structural deficit.

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