“It’s time to end Governor Pritzker’s tax hypocrisy. Pritzker says he ‘chooses fairness’ when it comes to raising taxes, yet Pritzker is the beneficiary of many overseas holdings that allow him to dodge untold millions in state and federal taxes. If Pritzker truly believes that rich people such as himself have an obligation to pay more in taxes to the State of Illinois, Pritzker should take the first step and domesticate his overseas holdings in Illinois so they would be subject to the higher tax rates he has proposed for the people of Illinois.
“As one of Illinois’ richest residents and leading tax hike proponents, it’s time for Governor Pritzker to pay his fair share, before expecting Illinois taxpayers to pay more. Tax fairness should start with our governor.” - Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider
Last week, Governor J.B. Pritzker finally released the specific tax rates of his plan to raise taxes on Illinois families and businesses. When you factor in the Personal Property Replacement Tax, Pritzker’s tax hike plan will hit corporations and trusts domiciled in the state of Illinois with a 10.45% and 9.45% tax rate, respectively, making it “one of the highest in the nation.”
During the course of last year’s gubernatorial campaign, Illinois voters learned that Pritzker is the beneficiary of many overseas trusts based in the Bahamas and Cayman Islands. Those trusts are not subject to taxes. Pritzker attempted to skirt the topic by saying there was nothing he could do about the trusts set up by his grandfather in the 1960s, and that all of his money from those trusts go to his charitable foundation.
But a Chicago Tribune investigated found that Pritzker himself utilizes overseas tax havens for his personal business ventures. Several overseas shell corporations were set up by Pritzker and his associates between 2008 and 2011. According to the Tribune, those corporations “are either wholly owned by J.B. Pritzker, his brother and business partner Anthony Pritzker, or list other close associates as controlling executives.”
All told, the Tribune found “35 offshore and domestic trusts and shell companies tied to Pritzker on top of the dozen offshore investment funds.”
Financial experts told the Tribune that the investment tactics used by Pritzker helped him maintain the secrecy of his overseas holdings while minimizing the tax liability.
When the investigation broke, Pritzker tax hike supporter Dan Biss said “J.B. Pritzker set up companies offshore, probably to avoid taxes and spent the entire past year lying about it.”
In 2008, The New York Times said the Pritzker family were “pioneers in using tax loopholes to shelter their holdings from the internal revenue service.” And J.B. Pritzker’s sister, Penny Pritzker, became the subject of media scrutiny after some of her overseas holdings were revealed in the Paradise Papers.
If Pritzker truly believes that rich people such as himself have an obligation to pay more in taxes to the State of Illinois, Pritzker should take the first step and domesticate his overseas holdings in Illinois so they would be subject to the higher tax rates he has proposed for the people of Illinois.
* Think Big Illinois…
After Governor Pritzker’s proposed fair tax rates showed that 97% of Illinoisans would not see a state income tax increase under a fair tax system, opponents have grown increasingly desperate in their false attacks. While these opponents will do or say anything to avoid forcing the wealthy to finally pay their fair share, it’s important to note the truth is not on their side.
A favorite talking point of these opponents is that the wealthiest Illinoisans will leave the state if they’re forced to pay their share, but the facts tell a different story. Research shows that there is no correlation between a state’s tax rates and the likelihood a high-income family leaves the state. Look no further than California, which increased its top marginal income tax rate to 13.3% in 2012, but continues to have a net migration in of millionaires each year.
Additionally, Illinoisans have fled the state for years as the Rauner administration played politics with the budget, leaving our education system decimated and critical services severely underfunded. A Fair Tax will bring in much-needed revenue to help address these issues, yet it’s Rauner’s brand of mismanagement and irresponsible governance that opponents are eager to return to.
“The legislature will have the same power if the Fair Tax is passed as they do now, and wealthy families will not leave the state at increased rates. These are just desperate false claims from Governor Rauner’s former allies who will do or say anything to keep a system in place that works for the wealthy while hurting working families,” said Quentin Fulks, Executive Director of Think Big Illinois. “The only difference is Illinois would finally have a tax structure where the burden is lifted off the middle class and the wealthiest pay their fair share. That’s why Think Big Illinois is committed to continue fighting for a Fair Tax in our state.”