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Crowell: Giving the middle class a fair shake

Published: Wednesday, March 5, 2014 9:43 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, March 5, 2014 9:56 p.m. CDT

Here in Illinois, people who work hard, pay their taxes and play by the rules, find it tougher and tougher to get by. They’re upset that while ordinary Illinoisans struggle, big corporations and the very rich aren’t paying their fair share – a view shared by 82 percent of Illinois voters.

They’re right. Economic data substantiates the fact Illinois’ lower and middle-income families pay about twice the rate in taxes than what the rich pay. That’s simply not fair.

Middle and lower-income families will either go without essential services or face higher local taxes, probably both, unless Springfield confronts the upcoming fiscal cliff head-on.

Expiring tax rates will add $2 billion to the current $6 billion backlog of unpaid bills. Critical investments in public education, infrastructure, public safety, health and human services, and more – literally all of our most important priorities – will face cuts unlike anything we’ve ever seen without drastic changes.

A Better Illinois is a large, diverse coalition committed to fundamentally altering the way Springfield does business through long-term, structural reform that creates stable and sustainable revenue.

Implementation of a Fair Tax, with lower rates for lower incomes and higher rates for higher incomes, would do just that.

In addition to stability, an even better reason for a Fair Tax is its impact on lower and middle-income families and their bottom lines. A Fair Tax represents a tax cut – not an increase, but a cut – for the overwhelming majority of Illinois taxpayers over what they currently pay.

Fair Tax legislation simply puts the question of a Fair Tax to Illinois voters on the upcoming November ballot. Why shouldn’t Illinois be allowed to tax millionaires at a rate higher than minimum wage workers if that’s what citizens decide is best?

It’s long past time to change our antiquated and unfair tax code, in favor of a Fair Tax with lower rates for lower incomes and higher rates for higher incomes.

Let’s put an end to the constant budgeting-by-crisis in Springfield, and at the same time give the middle class a fair shake.

• This Guest View is in response to a Scott Reeder column that appeared on the Feb. 5 Opinion page. Kristen Crowell is the executive director for A Better Illinois, a statewide coalition of civic and community organizations, small business, labor, and faith leaders, educators, service providers, and tens of thousands of ordinary taxpayers seeking to modernize Illinois tax structure to create greater fairness and long-term economic growth.

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