Illinois, a Taxing Experience

Illinois reigns as the 13th highest in annual state and local tax burden across the country.

But could Illinois actually rank higher?

This week, the Washington-based Tax Foundation released the Annual State-Local Tax Burden Ranking report for 2011. The study contains the most recent data provided by the Census Government Finance Division, which aggregates state and local tax information. The information is a year behind on the state level and two years behind at local levels.

Although ranking high among the most tax burdened states, the story might be even worse for the land of Lincoln.

In mid 2011, Illinois taxes went up by 67 percent. That means only a portion of the real tax burden from 2011 was included in the report.

Liz Malm, who co-authored the study, says the state’s income tax increases will be shown in next year’s data and will likely reflect the policy change.

State Rep. Ron Sandack, R-Downers Grove, believes Illinoisans are recognizing their higher tax burden. “I think that people in Illinois think that they’re taxed too high, and I also think that they don’t get appropriate value for the taxes they pay and that’s frustrating. It frustrates me and I think it frustrates citizens too.”

State Rep. Patty Bellock, R-Westmont, says overall tax burden is the No. 1 issue Illinoisans must look at.

“My philosophy is that you cannot tax and spend your way to prosperity,” she said. “That’s why the state of Illinois has suffered so, especially is the last couple of years since they put the income tax in place, because we have so many high taxes in other ways.”

But even with only half of the year’s full information playing out in the data, Malm says Illinois is at the high end of the tax spectrum at No. 13. The question becomes: where does Illinois really fall?

Sandack says Illinois’s top placement is all that matters. “To me, being the 13th highest tax state or the 11th or the 15th is a distinction that doesn’t matter because in the end, the conclusion is the same: we’re a high-tax state.”

It seems Illinoisans will have to wait another year before they see how much of an effect the “temporary” income tax really had on its residents. In the meantime, the Tax Man will keep coming.


—-Jes Greene