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Civic Federation: Property Tax Rebates Inefficient

Brian Mackey
NPR Illinois

  Taxes have been in the spotlight at the state Capitol this spring, most visibly the fate of the state's income tax rates. But another tax plan, floated by Governor Pat Quinn, is also attracting ire of Republicans and economists alike.

WUIS' Hannah Meisel speaks with Laurence Msall, president of the Chicago-based Civic Federation. The Civic Federation supports extending the 2011 income tax hike, but doesn't support Gov. Pat Quinn's property tax rebate plan.

Governor Quinn's plan for the Illinois budget calls for extending the state's 5-percent income tax rate, instead of allowing it roll back.

It's coupled with a $500 property tax rebate for every homeowner in Illinois.

Abdon Pallasch, assistant budget director for the governor, says it's relief that will impact taxpayers more than any fluctuation in income tax rates.

"Illinois residents pay some of the highest property tax rates in the country," he said. "We have one of the lowest state income tax rates. So, where do people need relief? They need it for their property taxes."

But Laurence Msall, president of the Chicago-based Civic Federation, says the plan is inefficient.

"If your aim was to reduce property taxes, the best way to do that is for the state of Illinois, if it was going to make its temporary income tax increase permanent, to share the traditional 10 percent with the local government distribution fund," He said.

Translation: give cities and towns a bigger share of the state's income tax revenue so they can depend less on local property taxes.

Other critics say that Quinn's plan to give homeowners a rebate is unfair to renters and other who can't afford to buy real estate.

Hannah covers state government and politics for Capitol News Illinois. She's been dedicated to the statehouse beat since interning at NPR Illinois in 2014, with subsequent stops at WILL-AM/FM, Law360, Capitol Fax and The Daily Line before returning to NPR Illinois in 2020 and moving to CNI in 2023.
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