It is common for humans to act against their own interests. For example, all that indulging over the Thanksgiving-Christmas holidays can reverse 10 months of sticking to a healthy diet and result in a lot of extra days at the gym in January. Or one “just have to have” impulse purchase can blow a carefully constructed budget and push that much needed vacation off for another year.
We do this in politics, too. A retired couple without children supports a school referendum that increases their taxes. A low-income family supports a candidate who opposes minimum wage increases and public options for health insurance that could transform their lives. Fiercely independent farmers vote for a president whose trade wars have a devastating impact on farm prices and then accept socialistic government payments.
If yard signs and organizational opposition are any indication, southern Illinois appears to be about to vote against our own interests regarding the Fair Tax amendment to the Illinois Constitution. The amendment on the ballot this November would change Illinois law to allow a graduated income tax. The proposed graduated tax schedule includes a slight decrease in taxes for those making up to $100,000 a year. Tax rates increase for those making over $250,000 a year. The proposal does not change the taxing authority or process.
Currently in Illinois, the top one percent pay about seven percent of their income in taxes while middle income families pay 12-13 percent and the lowest income families pay 14 percent of their income in combined local and state taxes. Ninety-three percent of all Illinois households makes less than $250,000 a year. According to Illinois Department of Revenue data of single and joint state tax filers, eight households in the 62806 zip code make more than $250,000 a year. No more than twenty households in the remaining five Edwards County zip codes make over $250,000 a year. However, under the current proposed graduated scale, 2,149 middle-income households in Edwards County would see an income tax decrease and 1,071 households making under $10,000 a year would see an even greater tax decrease. By contrast, 85 percent of the households that would experience the burden of the graduated tax are in Cook and the collar counties.
Despite all the complaining locals do about Cook and collar counties getting more than their fair share, according to a study by the Paul Simon Institute at Southern Illinois University, our area gets a 280 percent return in state dollars on the taxes we pay into the state coffers. Chicago is the greatest asset we have as far as funding and providing much needed services for our communities. By supporting the Fair Tax Amendment, we can continue to get more than our fair share while delivering property tax relief and a more equitable funding formula for our schools.
Maybe this time, we should vote in our own self-interest and vote ‘yes’ for Fair Tax. Want to see how it will impact you? Go to the State of Illinois’ Fair Tax Calculator and see for yourself.