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Report: Illinois Poor Face Unfair Tax Burden

PHOTO: Low and middle income Illinoisan pay a much greater share of their income in state and local taxes than the state's most affluent, according to a new study from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. Photo credit: Jane M. Sawyer/Morguefile.
PHOTO: Low and middle income Illinoisan pay a much greater share of their income in state and local taxes than the state's most affluent, according to a new study from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. Photo credit: Jane M. Sawyer/Morguefile.
January 19, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - A new study finds Illinois' poorest residents are paying almost three times more in taxes than the top one percent of earners. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, the state takes a much greater share of income from middle and low income families than from the wealthy.

Meg Wiehe, the institute's state policy director, says changes in tax policies could help solidify the state budget.

"If you have a state tax system that hitches its wagon to those at the very bottom, whose incomes are stagnant or even declining, rather than taking an adequate share from those at the top who are seeing their incomes growing, there could be major consequences for the state's ability to raise adequate revenue," says Wiehe.

As a share of family income, the report finds Illinois' lowest 20 percent of earners pay over 13 percent in state and local taxes, yet the top one percent pay about 4.5 percent.

Wiehe says Illinois' poorest face an unfair burden because of the state's flat income tax rate of 3.75 percent and its reliance on sales, excise, and property taxes. She says the state will have a problem with the expiration of a temporary income tax hike this year.

"There will be a lot of conversation happening in Illinois this year about how to raise adequate and fair revenue to plug that budget gap both for the short and the long term," says Wiehe.

Illinois made the report's "terrible 10," ranking fifth among states that are high tax for the poorest and low tax for the wealthiest.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL