It’s not news that it sucks to be poor. But today, on Tax Day, it sucks to be poor in Illinois more than almost any other state in the union.
The Huffington Post ranked Illinois at No. 2 on the list of The 10 States Taxing The Poor The Most. According to the Post, the state’s average income tax on the working poor is $509 a year.
Illinois taxes families of four making 57 percent of the poverty level. This means that a family earning $13,100 a year must pay income tax. Due to state fiscal issues, Illinois raised its flat income tax rate from 3 percent to 5 percent in 2011. This caused income taxes for a family of four at the poverty line to increase by $322. However, the state plans to fully implement tax credits for low-income families by 2013, which “will almost completely offset the impact of the income tax increase for poor families,” according to [the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.]
Illinois is second only to Alabama in screwing the poor. Alabama’s tax system is so unfair that the Birmingham News won a Pulitzer Prize for exposing its inequities. Just recently, the paper called Alabama's taxation "unfair and immoral."
The only state that should be happy about finishing second to Alabama is Mississippi. Illinois likes to congratulate itself for being progressive, because we’ve banned the death penalty, banned concealed weapons and approved civil unions for gays and lesbians. But we can’t truly say we’re progressive if we continue overburdening the poor on Tax Day.
The earned income tax credits are a good step, but Illinois still has a fundamentally regressive system, based on a flat tax and a high sales tax. So, for the thousandth time, let’s change the state constitution so we can raise income taxes on the wealthy. That would allow us to lower income taxes and sales taxes on everyone else. And we would no longer be in the same company as Alabama.
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