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Unclear on the concept

Monday, Feb 4, 2019

* Illinois News Network

Assistant Majority Leader Don Harmon has filed legislation to ask voters to change the state’s constitution to allow for a progressive tax system, but the bill provides no details about what that structure would look like.

Harmon’s bill would allow for the state to impose higher income tax rates on those who earn more, but is devoid of detail. It “provides that the income tax may be a fair tax where lower rates apply to lower income levels and higher rates apply to higher income levels,” according to a synopsis of the legislation.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has pledged to change the state’s flat income tax to a graduated one, but he has avoided talking about specifics such as tax rates. He’s said that the rates would be negotiated with the legislature.

Harmon’s proposal is actually a constitutional amendment. I don’t know very many people who want to lock tax rates into the Constitution.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

57 Comments »
  1. - Demoralized - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 11:35 am:

    Why would you ever put rates into the Constitution?


  2. - Whatever - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 11:38 am:

    Texas and California put everything in the world into their constitutions, and it is a real pain to deal with.


  3. - City Zen - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 11:42 am:

    == I don’t know very many people who want to lock tax rates into the Constitution.==

    We had no problem locking in other things in the Constitution.

    You could lock in wording similar to the individual-corporate rate relationship. Something like “the top rate can never be more than 2x the bottom rate.”


  4. - Arsenal - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 11:45 am:

    ==We had no problem locking in other things in the Constitution.==

    It’s OK to treat different things differently.


  5. - OneMan - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 11:46 am:

    With City Zen here, if you put some top rate can’t be higher than X times the lower rate, you may make it an easier sell since the whole idea of the ‘drunken sailor’ legislature is going to set a really high top rate and get you with it off argument off the table.

    Also is ‘fair tax’ a legal term and if not can constitutional amendments have value statements?


  6. - 360 Degree TurnAround - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 11:48 am:

    I think if the proponents are serious about doing a fair tax…it should be done via petition to referendum. That allows a chance for citizens to take it to ballot, it allows for education at the door.

    Another idea would be to include business tax incentives as well. Individuals don’t get near the tax relief that some businesses do.


  7. - Demoralized - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 11:48 am:

    ==Something like “the top rate can never be more than 2x the bottom rate.”==

    That’s a horrible idea. Why would you ever want to tie your hands like that?


  8. - Demoralized - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 11:50 am:

    ==That allows a chance for citizens==

    The citizens will get a vote. What difference does it make how it gets to the ballot?


  9. - wordslinger - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 11:50 am:

    Which do the INN types prefer: that they don’t get it, or that they’re being disingenuous?


  10. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 11:53 am:

    Rates should be negotiated and could be subject to change. It would be a terrible idea to lock rates in the Constitution, hard as it is to amend it.

    I see the wisdom more now of Pritzker not being specific about rates. I would love to see Republican input on the rates. I hope at least one or a few Republicans will be on board with passing the CA and a plan, especially in the House, where the margin for the CA passage is razor-thin. A good plan would have to include a rate cut for the vast majority of Illinoisans.


  11. - SAP - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 11:58 am:

    Currently the corporate rate cannot exceed the individual rate by more than an 8 to 5 ratio. A similar provision for a graduated rate may calm people (a little bit) on the higher end of the income spectrum if they know what the worst-case scenario could be.


  12. - A Young Person - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:05 pm:

    This language is way too restrictive. It’s the restrictiveness of the existing language that got us into this mess. There should not be a requirement that individual and corporate income be taxed at the same rate: a 15 percent state tax on individual income over $10 million in a year is justifiable in a way that a 15 percent state tax on corporate income over $10 million isn’t. And the municipal pre-emption is just totally unnecessary, and would eliminate local governments from doing the Dawn Clark Netsch income for property taxes swap.


  13. - OneMan - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:06 pm:

    == That’s a horrible idea. Why would you ever want to tie your hands like that? ==

    Perhaps because the Illinois legislature has demonstrated they need their hands tied to some extent. For example, if there was something about paying for pensions in the Consitution we might not be in at least part of the mess we are in now. Same thing if we had made the ‘pay for education’ thing a bit more explicit, same with the balanced budget.


  14. - Slugger O'Toole - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:07 pm:

    ==I don’t know very many people who want to lock tax rates into the Constitution. ==

    Why stop here…Perfect timing for a Con Con. Let’s re-write the whole thing. That and re-districting should cure what ails us.


  15. - Annonin' - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:07 pm:

    Is Capt Fax planning to cover McSweeney’s radio interview He opposes any hike in min. wagew


  16. - Rich Miller - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:09 pm:

    ===Perfect timing for a Con Con===

    The last referendum received 37 percent. Let me know when you’ve changed those minds.


  17. - Arsenal - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:11 pm:

    ==For example, if there was something about paying for pensions in the Consitution==

    Err…isn’t there already?

    That and the Constitution already does tie the legislature’s hands on the fair tax issue. Do you really perceive that as working?


  18. - OneMan - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:12 pm:

    == Err…isn’t there already? ==

    Nope, we have to pay the pensions, nothing about putting the money away to do so.

    Depending on ones point of view a big difference.


  19. - wordslinger - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:13 pm:

    – For example, if there was something about paying for pensions in the Consitution we might not be in at least part of the mess we are in now.–

    Dude, you’re way behind on the reading.


  20. - 360 Degree TurnAround - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:16 pm:

    ==The citizens will get a vote. What difference does it make how it gets to the ballot? ==

    I think it allows you to educate the public as you get signatures. It looks better if it is citizen driven, rather than politician driven.


  21. - Huh? - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:19 pm:

    I am guessing that one man wanted to say “… if there wasn’t something about paying pensions…”


  22. - C Ball - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:21 pm:

    Does anyone know the origin and significance of the “one tax” phrase in the proposed amendment: “There may be one tax on the income of individuals and corporations.”


  23. - Perrid - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:22 pm:

    ““the top rate can never be more than 2x the bottom rate”

    It seems very silly to put any kind of limitation like that into the constitution. If we needed more revenue we would take years to change it. And to your specific example, the whole reasons behind a progressive income tax is to STOP people who can pay more from holding the people who can’t hostage. Stop the hostage taking, not change it.


  24. - Anon324 - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:24 pm:

    ==I think it allows you to educate the public as you get signatures.==

    Ah yes, because Joe Signature Collector is deep in the weeds on policy.


  25. - 360 Degree TurnAround - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:28 pm:

    ==Ah yes, because Joe Signature Collector is deep in the weeds on policy.==

    And your suggestion for education on this is?…TV? Need a majority of those voting in the election or 3/5 voting on the question. Lots of education is needed.


  26. - City Zen - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:30 pm:

    ==That’s a horrible idea. Why would you ever want to tie your hands like that?==

    Actually, it ties us altogether. #WeAreOne

    This is about transparency. No one seems to want to volunteer the rates, even though they’ve been crunching the numbers for a decade or so. Why not offer some other guarantee?

    You can have other provisions, such as no more than “X” brackets or that rates can only be increased once every “X” years or the tax brackets will be indexed to inflation or married brackets must be double single brackets.


  27. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:31 pm:

    While the rate isn’t defined in the constitution, there is a ratio between personal and corporate income taxes.

    I wonder if you could do a ratio between the lowest bracket and the highest bracket, or determine the number of brackets within the constitution?

    ______

    SECTION 3. LIMITATIONS ON INCOME TAXATION
    (a) A tax on or measured by income shall be at a
    non-graduated rate. At any one time there may be no more than
    one such tax imposed by the State for State purposes on
    individuals and one such tax so imposed on corporations. In
    any such tax imposed upon corporations the rate shall not
    exceed the rate imposed on individuals by more than a ratio
    of 8 to 5.


  28. - Nonbeleiver - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:34 pm:

    NO details as to what this tax would be.

    So incompetent that they never thought of this important matter?

    Or, purposely trying to hide what they want?


  29. - Arsenal - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:37 pm:

    ==And your suggestion for education on this is?==

    There can and probably will still be a large canvassing operation for the referendum, regardless of how it’s put on the ballot. Nothing about it originating with the legislature forbids that.


  30. - RNUG - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:40 pm:

    Before it is over with, they will probably have to put language to the effect that the initial rates / brackets will be x and they are to remain unchanged for 5 years; thereafter the General Assembly can change the rates and brackets, but said changes will be effective for a minimum of 5 years.


  31. - A Jack - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:41 pm:

    There are no rates in the Federal Constitution on income tax. Indeed Amendment 16 is quite simple.


  32. - OneMan - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:52 pm:

    == And to your specific example, the whole reasons behind a progressive income tax is to STOP people who can pay more from holding the people who can’t hostage ==

    To be blunt, it is this sort of thought and rhetoric that makes me think some sort of tie between highest and lowest rates isn’t a bad idea. Why not ask Mike Madigan (since he was around at the time) if that was the idea behind using a flat tax.

    I can just see the legislature going again and again to the highest rate and bracket and increasing the rate and lowering the bracket because it is ‘just rich people’ until it becomes a problem. The easiest thing to do is to TOP (tax other people), that is how we ended up with more gaming positions than Nevada.

    The reasoning behind why I think there shouldn’t be some sort of limit is because I fundamentally do not think the Illinois legislature has the good sense to be sensible about it. It’s the same thing about why I think funding pensions should be in the state constitution. When we took these various funding holidays under Rod (and others) I am sure no one thought it was a good idea, it just made it a bigger problem down the road. So things that prevent bad decisions are a good thing.

    We put things in constitutions in part because we don’t think they should be abandoned when things get tough, we wouldn’t have put the whole pension thing in the constitution unless there was a concern that down the road we would have cut or refused to pay pensions either for funding reasons or to ‘get back’ at some entity (like the judiciary) for something they (or someone in particular) did. I think that was and is a good idea, I just wish they had put something about ‘you have to put a certain amount of money away no matter what’ in there as well.


  33. - Keyser Soze - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:57 pm:

    As already stated, there are good reasons why a specific tax rate structure should not be placed in the constitution. On the other hand, how likely is the proposed amendment to win voter support without specifics? Do Illinois voters trust their politicians enough to give them this opening?


  34. - Demoralized - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 1:08 pm:

    Nonbeliever

    When you get some reading comprehension let us all know.


  35. - Levois - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 1:12 pm:

    I wonder if the current tax structure is locked into the constitution?


  36. - Norseman - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 1:12 pm:

    You can take the INN out of the propaganda organization, but you can’t take the propaganda out of INN.


  37. - jake - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 1:14 pm:

    This should be so simple. The Illinois Constitution currently says “A tax on or measured by income shall be at a non-graduated rate.” Just change it to “A tax on or measured by income may be at a graduated or non-graduated rate.” Change one word and add two.


  38. - OneMan - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 1:15 pm:

    Or another way of thinking about it, nothing would prevent the rate on the highest income from being lower than the rate on the lowest income.

    You got to pass the thing via referendum, with some simple constraints you can make that easier and perhaps keep some money out of the race that would work to prevent it from passing.


  39. - Demoralized - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 1:18 pm:

    @360 Degree TurnAround:

    JB Pritzker wasn’t secretive about his desire to have a graduated income tax. He was elected overwhelmingly.


  40. - Demoralized - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 1:35 pm:

    Whether they can get away with it I don’t know, but I would keep this amendment as simple as possible. You don’t want to put detail that will limit your ability to adjust the rates. Having been on the policy making side, whenever I’m drafting anything I make it as vague as I’m able to get away with so as not to tie our hands later. You want to give yourself as much flexibility as possible to change things as easily as possible.


  41. - wordslinger - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 1:36 pm:

    –No one seems to want to volunteer the rates, even though they’ve been crunching the numbers for a decade or so.–

    Who are “they” that secretly established the desired rates ten years ago and don’t want to tell you?

    Is Pritzker in on it?

    Is Q?


  42. - A Jack - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 1:44 pm:

    There shouldn’t be any rates included. If they want to make it harder to raise rates, they should require a super majority to raise rates and a simple majority to lower rates.


  43. - City Zen - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 1:51 pm:

    ==Who are “they” that secretly established the desired rates ten years ago and don’t want to tell you?==

    Wasn’t A Better Illinois peddling some rates back when they were a thing? Didn’t Harmon have some plan? Martwick’s Wisconsin envy? Hasn’t CTBA releases a plan or two? Didn’t Pritzker just hire some dude from the CTBA?

    All these smart people with mounds of data and a new governor with a year old roadmap yet no one knows nothing. And these are the people that want to be my latex salesmen?


  44. - bobby - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 2:33 pm:

    ok…..without details whos going to vote for a more than likely tax increase? if it were to pass your have to seriously consider the validity of the ballot…you can word it “fair” “progressive” whatever you want,its still a increase for most..


  45. - jimmydean - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 2:37 pm:

    The last referendum received 37 percent. Let me know when you’ve changed those minds. rich, i think even youd agree the climate politically and financial in the state has changed since the last vote in around 2000.that 37% would be greater


  46. - Demoralized - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 2:41 pm:

    ==the last vote in around 2000==

    It was 2008.


  47. - Nonbeleiver - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 2:56 pm:

    ‘JB Pritzker wasn’t secretive about his desire to have a graduated income tax. He was elected overwhelmingly.”

    That is true but I find it hard to believe that is the primary reason he won. Rauner, himself had a lot to do with that.

    In any case, it is time for the Governor to be open and honest and lay out his specifics as to what such a tax would be.

    And yes, such specifics should be in any Constitutional amendment. If it isn’t, then it is basically a blank check for the State politicos to spend as they want by constantly raising the rates in any many they so desire. Of course, if that is what you want then this is a good idea.

    Be honest, be specific and then let the voters decide as to whether to support any new amendment.


  48. - VanillaMan - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 3:11 pm:

    Expecting the governmental body responsible for this fiasco to be the exact governmental body to fix the fiasco is, in my opinion, being even more unclear on the concept.


  49. - Nonbeleiver - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 3:26 pm:

    - Demoralized - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 1:08 pm:

    Nonbeliever

    When you get some reading comprehension let us all know.’

    Please do not waste cyberspace with such an inane comment.


  50. - Demoralized - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 3:37 pm:

    ==I find it hard to believe that is the primary reason he won==

    I didn’t say that it was. I was responding to the notion that the citizens should be the driving force in this in the form of a citizen initiative. Those citizens knew what they were getting when they voted for Pritzker as far as a graduated income tax goes. So, they’ve already spoken as far as I’m concerned when it comes to the concept.

    ==And yes, such specifics should be in any Constitutional amendment==

    The rate isn’t in there now. You should never, ever put something as specific as a tax rate in a Constitution. That would be foolish. You never want to tie your hands like that.

    == let the voters decide as to whether to support any new amendment.==

    They will decide that. If they want specifics then they won’t vote for it.

    ==Please do not waste cyberspace with such an inane comment.==

    Then perhaps you shouldn’t have made your inane comment in the first place.


  51. - jim - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 3:48 pm:

    jb was very open about his tax plan.
    He wants to raise rates on super-income earners, people he said are like himself and Bruce Rauner.
    Plus, he wants to cut taxes on middle-income and lower-income individuals and families.
    So tax rates will be going up on a relative handful of people and down for millions of people.
    don’t see how that works for hte state but JB is a very smart guy who, obviously, has it all figured out.


  52. - wordslinger - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 4:01 pm:

    –Expecting the governmental body responsible for this fiasco to be the exact governmental body to fix the fiasco is, in my opinion, being even more unclear on the concept.–

    How else do you propose to amend the Constitution, other than constitutional means?


  53. - Rich Miller - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 4:02 pm:

    ===to be the exact governmental body===

    So… you want a military coup or something? Careful what you wish for, bub.


  54. - City Zen - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 4:49 pm:

    ==Be honest, be specific and then let the voters decide as to whether to support any new amendment.==

    Your asking for transparency and the response is basically, “why be transparent?” Amusing indeed.

    If the intent is to only impact “super-income earners”, then write a surcharge into the constitution over the current flat rate for those super-income earners. Wasn’t that Madigan’s intent for the millionaire’s tax? Two progressive rates. Done and done.

    Many ways to skin this cat: time (no tax hikes for 10 years), number of brackets (5), indexing against brackets (highest = 2x lowest), brackets indexed to inflation, filing status (married brackets 2x higher than single filers).

    You don’t have to be specific with rates to be specific.


  55. - Demoralized - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 5:24 pm:

    ==Your asking for transparency and the response is basically, “why be transparent?” Amusing indeed.==

    Don’t be dense. Saying that specifics should not be in the Constitution is saying no such thing.


  56. - VanillaMan - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 6:15 pm:

    ILGOP has little governing credibility post Rauner, but ILDEM, had little governing credibility with Blago/Quinn/Madigan.

    Pritzker has a shot. First, he needs to demonstrate that he can govern beyond silly social agenda causes. Pot, abortion and global warming is not the reason he got elected.

    He got elected to make the trains run on time within the limits as currently set. Rauner failed, but set the bar low. Pritzker has to first demonstrate an ability to do a better job than Rauner, within the confinements Rauner failed within.

    Voters fired Rauner because he wouldn’t govern without demanding substantial changes. Pritzker should show that he can - first.

    Pritzker has to earn the office. Rauner never figured that out.


  57. - theCardinal - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 7:18 am:

    People rest assured this tax restructuring (revenue enhancement) will be done with the utmost transparency. Anyone for a Conference committee


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