illinois taxes

Panel listens to an audience member question at an Illinois Issues Forum
UIS Office of Electronic Media / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

Watch the first Illinois Issues Forum from Springfield.  Our 2018 election coverage starts discussing the fiscal health of Illinois. 

This forum is produced and hosted by NPR Illinois with support provided by AARP Illinois. 

The Panel:

Illinois Issues: Flat Vs. Graduated Income Tax

Aug 24, 2017

Commentary:   Should Illinois' current flat-tax system be changed as the state attempts to deal with its ongoing budget struggles? 

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This week saw the inauguration of a new session at the Statehouse - the 100th General Assembly.  Will this new term be able to solve Illinois' long-standing budget crisis?  Chris Mooney, Director of the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs, and Lee Enterprises' Dan Petrella join the panel.

Il Chamber

  A leading business group is hinting that it could loosen  its stance on opposition to a service tax.

During the campaign, Governor Bruce Rauner proposed a tax on certain services as a possible way to raise money.   The state Chamber of Commerce is gauging its members on what they could support when it comes to revenue for the state.

screenshots from candidate TV ads

Unfortunately, even if the winner of the contest for governor is able to resolve what are arguably the two most pressing fiscal issues the state faces, Illinois’ budget would still be in deep trouble.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

While the fat lady may not yet have sung for the new law slashing pension benefits for public workers, she certainly seems to be warming up in the wings, courtesy of the Illinois Supreme Court.

Flickr user:

Amid the debate about the nation’s widening gap between rich and poor — a reality amplified in the State of the Union address — the numbers in Illinois paint a particularly striking picture.

It’s not your imagination. Multiple studies and census figures point to the rich getting richer and the poor and middle class treading water or losing ground all across the nation, but Illinois is among the states with the most pronounced divide. 

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Illinois has some 6,500 units of local government — a great many more than any other state in the nation. A pattern of overlapping jurisdictions, pyramided taxing powers, fragmented public services and divided responsibility has pervaded Illinois and caused a complex and complicated tangle of governments at the local level.

Is this a recent observation from some academic think tank, offered as Illinoisans this month face paying the first installment of the property taxes that sustain most of the 6,500-plus governing bodies?

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

As the Illinois General Assembly girds for what everyone hopes will be the final month of its spring session, the spotlight is on a handful of high-profile issues, topped by crafting a budget for the 2015 Fiscal Year that starts July 1.

Key to budget-making, of course, is whether lawmakers heed Gov. Pat Quinn’s call for keeping in place current income tax rates, now scheduled to roll back on January 1. Allowing the rates to drop dramatically would lead to “extreme and radical cuts” in education and other core state services, the governor warned in his March budget address.

An upcoming film about the late author and former Illinois State University professor David Foster Wallace opted not to film in the Bloomington-Normal area and instead chose Michigan, reportedly for the state’s more generous tax breaks.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Robots from space attacked Chicago, blowing up buildings and vaporizing residents as they ran through the streets. A mad villain flipped a semi-trailer end over end and blew up a hospital. Two blues men drove through a suburban mall, crashed into the lobby of the Richard J. Daley Center and caused a pileup of police cruisers while tearing around the city on a holy mission. 

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

  Guess what? 

State tax cuts don’t improve economic growth.

No, that’s not an April Fool’s Day zinger.

Rather, it’s the conclusion of a report issued last month by the Fiscal Policy Center at Voices for Illinois Children, a nonpartisan advocacy organization for the state’s youngsters (Poor Finances, Uncertainty about Looming Revenue Collapse Threaten State Economy).

  Taxes suck.

That, it seems, is the only truism. Nobody wants to render unto Caesar. But, at least in Illinois, Caesar needs to get re-elected, and so stuff can get complicated.


It is an example of a measure that might not affect many people.

An Illinois lawmaker says Olympic athletes who win medals shouldn't have to pay state tax on their awards.

State Sen. Julie Morrison is sponsor of legislation approved by a Senate committee Wednesday that would waive the tax.

Morrison is a Democrat from the Chicago suburb of Deerfield who says she represents many of Illinois' Olympic athletes. She says Olympic athletes proudly represent Illinois and the U.S. and ``we should honor them for their commitment.''

End and Means: Illinois Should Examine Its Revenue Structure

Feb 1, 2014
Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Has the time come to overhaul Illinois’ venerable (outdated?) revenue structure?

The question is more than academic, given the daunting challenge for Gov. Pat Quinn and the Illinois General Assembly to craft a balanced budget for next fiscal year with some $2 billion less in receipts due to the partial rollback of the 2011 income tax increase.

Although the search for a way out of the state’s public pension mess has been the focal point in Springfield for the past two years, it’s not the only fiscal question mark looming over Illinois’ political landscape.

But unlike the years-long build-up that led to the slow-motion pension train wreck, this potential debacle has a timeline that’s crystal clear. On January 1, 2015, the first phase of the state’s temporary 2011 income tax increase will expire, potentially blowing a projected $2.2 billion hole in the state’s revenue stream.

Is it worth it to leave one state for another due to taxes?  The National Center for Policy Analysis, a non partisan public policy research group, developed a way to help you determine the answer.  It's an online state  tax calculator.   Pam Villareal is a senior fellow for the Center. She spoke with WUIS' Sean Crawford:

Want to try out the calculator?  Find it here.

Jamey Dunn headshot 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

A year after Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill aimed at collecting sales tax from online retailers, the state is still struggling to get revenues from sellers such as, and it seems that Illinois and other states may be out of luck until a federal solution can be found. 

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that states could not make businesses outside of their borders collect tax on purchases made by state residents. But if a business has a brick and mortar presence in a state, such as a store, it must collect state taxes on catalog and Internet sales in the state, too. 

At the hub of the state's bureaucracy, Central Management Services is big business. And more and more often, more and more of that business is going on behind closed doors.

The Illinois Department of Central Management Services is the all-purpose agency through which some $3 billion in state funds flow each year. It is state government's landlord and auto mechanic. And it oversees purchasing, information technology and telecommunications operations, as well as insurance benefits for thousands of state employees.

Maytag's recent decision to close its plant in Galesburg and send a major portion of the work 1,600 Illinoisans had been performing to a new factory in Reynosa, Mexico, is the most recent example of the down side of globalization of the economy. 

After a decade of tax breaks and union concessions, Maytag shuttered its factory, which had been making refrigerators in that western Illinois town for more than 50 years. The company also decided to outsource other jobs to Daewoo, a Korean multinational subcontractor that is expected to build a plant in Mexico.