Senate advances tax cut, property tax relief package

SPRINGFIELD – Nearly all working men and women in the northwest suburbs would pay less in state income taxes under a historic overhaul that was approved by the Illinois Senate Wednesday.

State Senator Ann Gillespie (D-Arlington Heights) voted for a package of measures that includes new income tax rates requiring millionaires to pay their fair share to the state, as well as tax relief for suburban property owners and elimination of Illinois’ estate tax.

“Ninety-seven percent of taxpayers stand to benefit from scrapping Illinois’ flat tax and moving to a system that ties income taxes to how much people earn,” Gillespie said. “We’re going to give them that choice at the ballot box.”

Under the proposal, only the top 3 percent of Illinois earners would pay more in income taxes. Everyone who makes less than $250,000 a year would pay a rate of 4.95 percent or less.

The package is part of a constitutional amendment that will require voter approval in 2020. The plan approved by the Senate Wednesday must go to the House for consideration next.

Under the property tax portion of the measure, as long as the state lives up to its responsibilities to adequately fund school districts, including lunch programs and student busing costs, districts would be barred from going to local property owners seeking tax hikes.

Property tax relief has to be a priority for the state, Gillespie said, noting that the legislation gets at the root of what largely drives high property taxes across the state – funding for local school districts. In addition, it forces the state to own up to its responsibility of fully funding schools.

“The high price tag that comes with being a suburban property owner has reached crisis status for many families,” Gillespie said. “People shouldn’t have to choose between paying their property taxes and having great schools for their children.”

The package of legislation – the fair tax rates, elimination of the estate tax and property tax relief – comprises Senate bills 687, 689 and 690. In addition, Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 1 (SJRCA01) simplifies constitutional language about income taxes to allow for a fair tax while eliminating Illinois’ current outdated flat tax system.