We need a fair tax in Illinois. Let’s review the evidence:
Illinois’ current flat-rate income tax system is unfair. Taxpayers with the lowest incomes pay nearly three times as much of their total income in state and local taxes as those with the highest incomes. The middle class pays more than twice as much. Wealthier taxpayers do pay substantially more dollars in income taxes, but due to deductions and exemptions, they actually pay a lower effective tax rate. That means wealthier families have plenty of income left over after they pay their income taxes, but middle- and low-income families struggle to meet their basic expenses.
Illinois’ current flat-rate income tax system is inadequate. It does not generate enough revenue to fund adequately the priority services of the state — public education, health care, human services, and public safety. Poll after poll has shown that the people of Illinois want the state to provide these services, but inadequate revenue has required budget cuts year after year and generated a backlog of over-due bills, further exacerbating the situation.
Illinois’ current flat-rate income tax system is unjust. The Illinois Constitution states in its Preamble that the state will strive to eliminate poverty and inequality and, further, assure the legal, social, and economic justice for all people of the state. Fine ideals, certainly, but our flat-rate tax system actually increases disparity, leaving those with poverty-level incomes with even less to meet their basic needs.
Clearly, we need a fair tax that charges higher rates for people with higher income and lower rates for people with lower income. To do this, we must amend the Illinois State Constitution. Joint resolutions — SJRCA 40 and HJRCA33 — have been introduced in the Illinois General Assembly, and thousands of people across the state have joined the campaign, known as A Better Illinois.
May 4, 2014 is the critical date. That’s the deadline for passing a joint resolution out of the General Assembly to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot for consideration by the voters of Illinois.
There is plenty of resistance to the fair tax campaign. Some voters declare that we shouldn’t give Springfield any more money until it cleans up its “mess.” Other groups are working on constitutional amendments for their causes. And, some well-funded groups routinely oppose the idea of a fair tax as well as almost any other tax reform ideas.
Be that as it may, A Better Illinois has been hard at work for the past year, and the campaign is gathering significant momentum, and we at CRS are deeply engaged in this important endeavor. Here are some ways that you can get involved:
We urge clergy to join a diverse group of faith leaders by signing onto Faith Leaders Appeal for Tax Fairness.
At least 85,000 people have signed onto the A Better Illinois petition endorsing the campaign, and we encourage lay persons to sign on as well.
Hundreds of campaign volunteers are canvassing door-to-door one Saturday every month, and we hope you will join one of our CRS teams.
Thousands have joined the campaign. We need thousands more. Adding your name is an important first step. Then, help to spread the word to other clergy, family, friends, and neighbors.
May 9th is only seven months away.