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It's Inevitable - Congress' Tax Debate Touches Illinois Households

September 13, 2010

CHICAGO - With Congress reconvening today and the mid-term election season in full swing, lawmakers are expected to take up a topic that affects all Illinois households: taxes. Tax breaks that were put in place during the Bush administration will be expiring soon, and Congress needs to decide whether to continue them. Some say tax breaks should continue only for low- and middle-income people because they're still suffering from the recession. Others say wealthy people should get tax breaks because they create the jobs.

Sean Noble, director of government relations with Voices for Illinois Children, says low- and middle-income families can't afford higher taxes right now.

"That's true in Illinois especially, when you add together the state and local tax burden, even setting aside the federal. Oftentimes the very lowest income families pay twice as much a percentage of their income as do the very highest income families."

Noble says he's also concerned about the earned income tax and child care tax credits. They had been adjusted, through the stimulus package, to include more Illinois families. If those adjustments are allowed to expire, he says, hundreds of thousands of struggling families will suffer.

Noble says tax credits that were adjusted to reach additional low- and middle-income taxpayers have been easing the tax burden in Illinois.

"The earned income tax credit and the child tax credit are a couple of the avenues that can help to make taxes just a little bit more fair."

President Obama has recommended that the Bush era tax cuts be extended for everyone except the wealthiest two percent of Americans. Opponents say raising taxes on rich people will kill jobs. But Noble says that studies have shown tax breaks for everyone else help to create jobs.

"Low-income and middle-income people are far more likely to spend that money, boosting local businesses."

Noble says he thinks it comes down to two considerations.

"What are the wisest policies to help people who struggle the most, to help us get the federal economy overall back on track?"

Mary Anne Meyers, Public News Service - IL