State leader urges Joliet chamber to oppose tax revamp

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The head of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce on Thursday urged Joliet chamber members to take up a fight against the progressive income tax.

It may start as a millionaire's tax but is likely to work its way down to lower brackets, Todd Maisch, president of the state chamber, said.

"Nobody in Joliet's going to get a tax increase. It's going to be the really, really rich guys on LaSalle Street," Maisch said, giving his impression of how proponents of the progressive tax portray it. "That's not the way it is."

Maisch said other states have implemented progressive income taxes on high-income brackets initially but later increase rates for people at lower incomes to collect more revenue.

Illinois voters will vote Nov. 3 on a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would make it possible to create a progressive income tax rate.

Illinois now has a flat tax at which everyone pays state income tax at the same rate of 4.95% regardless of income level. The state constitution requires a flat income tax rate.

Maisch said chamber polling shows only 25 percent of Illinoisans are aware of the progressive income tax being on the ballot this year.

"We've got to educate the public," Maisch said. "What we're seeing is almost everybody ends up paying more in the future."

Gov. JB Pritzker is proposing a progressive income tax at which people at lower income levels would pay a lower rate or the same rate they do now while those at upper income levels would see tax rates rise.

The rate structure, however, is not set by the constitutional amendment. It will be set by the state legislature if voters approve the amendment.

It could also be increased in the future, which Maisch said is likely because the $3.5 billion in revenue raised by the proposed rates are not sufficient to solve Illinois financial problems.

Maisch urged chamber members to inform people about the amendment on the Nov. 3 ballot.

"You all can make a difference if you talk neighbor to neighbor, colleague to colleague," he said.