Illinois voters reject fair tax amendment

By Vivian La, Staff Writer

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed constitutional amendment to implement a graduated income tax system failed to pass on Election Day. The flat tax will remain in the Illinois Constitution.

With 98% of precincts reporting as of Wednesday morning, 55% of voters voted “No” to change the current flat tax rate of 4.95%.

Even with outstanding mail-in ballots, the 55% to 45% in favor is too wide of a margin to overcome. The amendment needed 60% approval in order to pass.

“Illinois is in a massive budget crisis … a crisis that was only made worse by the coronavirus pandemic,” Vote Yes For Fairness Chairman Quentin Fulks said in a press release on Wednesday morning. “Fair Tax opponents must answer for whatever comes next.”

Vote Yes for Fairness is a committee dedicated to educating Illinois voters about the graduated income tax system funded personally by Gov. Pritzker.

Gov. Pritzker has pushed for the constitutional amendment since 2019. In his daily coronavirus briefing on Nov. 3, he said “options for Illinois without the fair tax are not good.”

Supporters of the tax amendment have said the change is a way to address the financial imbalance in the state. Opponents have said that there is no guarantee that high tax brackets for the wealthy would affect lower-income individuals.

Matt Paprocki, president of Illinois Policy, said in a press release Wednesday morning, “Illinoisans made their voices heard and sent a clear message to Illinois politicians: ‘We want to keep our constitutional flat-tax protection.’”

Paprocki said voters recognized how the progressive tax policy would hurt citizens on all levels.

The Illinois Constitution will keep the current flat tax rate, regardless of income differences.

“We are undoubtedly disappointed with this result but are proud of the millions of Illinoisans who cast their ballots in support of tax fairness in this election,” Fulks said.

Thirty-two other states in the U.S. have some form of a progressive income tax. Illinois is one of eight states in the country that has a flat tax.

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