Progressive Income Tax Is Not A Simple Legislative Solution

Candidates are touting a progressive income tax as a solution to our budgetary crisis. This policy proposal misses the important point that Illinois voters must decide on the issue in the form of a proposed constitutional amendment before the Illinois legislature can pursue any such changes.

Article IX of the Illinois Constitution is entitled “Revenue” and it provides, in Section 3, that any income tax cannot be implemented at a graduated rate:

 (a) A tax on or measured by income shall be at a non-graduated rate. At any one time there may be no more than one such tax imposed by the State for State purposes on individuals and one such tax so imposed on corporations. In any such tax imposed upon corporations the rate shall not exceed the rate imposed on individuals by more than a ratio of 8 to 5.

(b) Laws imposing taxes on or measured by income may adopt by reference provisions of the laws and regulations of the United States, as they then exist or thereafter may be changed, for the purpose of arriving at the amount of income upon which the tax is imposed.

This means we need to, at a minimum, amend the Illinois Constitution to implement a progressive income tax.  The procedure to amend the Illinois Constitution begins in Springfield, but gives the citizens the final say. Article XIV, entitled Constitutional Revision requires a 3/5ths vote in each house vote to even place the proposed amendment on the ballot.  Then explanations for the changes will be published and circulated.  A proposed constitutional amendment gets placed on a separate ballot for us, the voters, to make the final say.  The proposed amendment becomes law if either (1) 3/5ths of those actually voting on the question approve it, or (2) if a majority of those voting in the election approve it.

Suffice to say, implementing a progressive income tax is not a simple solution, nor one that can take effect in short order.

You can find and read the Illinois Constitution here: http://www.ilga.gov/commission/lrb/conent.htm

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