(The Center Square) – The leader of the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce said Gov. J.B. Pritzker doesn't like for black businesses to have an opinion about the proposed income tax amendment that would change the state's flat tax rate to a structure with higher rates for higher earners.
Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Larry Ivory said it is the wrong time for changing Illinois flat income tax to one with higher rates for higher earners.
Ivory said 40 percent of businesses may not survive the economic impact of COVID-19 restrictions and because of the state’s poor business climate pre-pandemic, people needing jobs are already being hurt by businesses leaving the state.
State Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, said the proposed graduated income tax makes sense for Illinois.
“If we can make sure that those that make more can pay more we should do that,” Ford said.
Ivory said it’s “ridiculous” to think that raising taxes on businesses won’t affect their employees. He said taxing higher earners at higher rates will impact job creators and limit job offerings, which will in turn hurt the Black community.
“It has no sound economic basis in terms of it making any sense,” Ivory told WMAY radio. “Now I understand that we have a deficit, but we’ve had a deficit for quite some time and there are no restrictions on how they’re going to spend the money.”
Supporters of the change have said 97 percent of Illinoisans will see a modest income tax cut. Opponents have said the tax change will increase taxes on small businesses and hurt the economy.
Pritzker, who ran on the idea, estimates a progressive tax would increase revenue by $3 billion a year if it is approved by voters. The budget he enacted and the Democratic supermajority voted for in May relies on more than $1 billion from the tax. Voters decide the fate of the progressive income tax amendment at the ballot box in November.
Ivory said their concerns about the tax increase have fallen on deaf ears at the governor’s office.
“We had an opinion on the progressive tax and the governor didn't like it for us to have an opinion, and we think that’s unfortunate that we’re in that position at this point in time,” Ivory said. “We’d much rather work with governors.”
Ivory said the organization has worked with governor’s from both sides of the aisle for years.
Pritzker last week said he’s spoken with opponents of the idea.
Ford said Ivory should reach out to legislators to work on policies that benefit the Black community instead.
“But going straight to the governor, avoiding the members, that’s a problem,” Ford said.
Illinoisans currently pay a flat rate of 4.95 percent in income taxes to the state regardless of how much they make.
If voters approve the constitutional amendment, individuals or couples filing jointly would see their rates increasing to 7.75 percent on income over $250,000. The rates would increase to 7.85 percent on individual income of more than $350,000 and joint filing income of more than $500,000. The rates would increase to 7.99 percent on individual income of more than $750,000 and joint filing income of more than $1 million.