Forum discusses tax policy alternative for Illinois

The League of Women Voters of Adams County is hosting a program called "A Better Way to Tax for Illinois" Thursday night.

Illinois is one of just 7 states currently using a flat rate for individual income tax, but certain voters are calling for change.

The League of Women Voters of Adams County hosted a presentation focused on tax policy alternatives on Thursday night at Quincy University.

The current income tax rate in Illinois is 5 percent for all taxpayers, but 34 other states have adopted a system that some say is more economical.

Ralph Martire from the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability in Chicago spoke during the presentation and supports a progressive tax rate structure. In a progressive, or 'graduated', system, income tax rate would change based on amount of income. Those who earn less would pay a lower rate, and those with higher earnings would pay a higher rate.

Martire says if Illinois were to adopt a progressive system, the state would generate more revenue for programs like social services, healthcare, and education.

"The reality is that for the very longest time, Illinois' tax policy has been a major drag on its economy," Martire said. "Despite being one of the lowest-taxing states in the entire nation for the last 30 years, Illinois' economic growth has fallen behind the rest of the country - the much higher-taxed rest of the country...and you need to have adequate taxes because you need to have adequate revenue to invest in educating your children, etc."

Currently, there are two proposed bills in Illinois that aim to amend the Illinois Constitution. Bills SJRCA 0018 and HJRCA 0002 call for the Constitution to be amended to state that either a non-graduated or graduated rate may be used for income tax.

Locally, both Missouri and Iowa have adopted the graduated rate system.

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