BACKGROUND

JCUA is mobilizing Illinois voters to pass the Fair Tax referendum on Election Day. Currently, the Illinois constitution mandates a flat tax system, in which everyone pays the state the same percentage of their taxable income (the current rate is 4.95 percent). In May 2019, the General Assembly passed a joint resolution to amend the state constitution to allow enactment of a graduated income tax. In addition, the General Assembly passed and the Governor signed a bill that would institute a new structure of graduated income tax brackets (see graphic below). Under this proposal, only those with yearly incomes of more than $250,000 would pay a higher tax rate. The statute would take effect at the beginning of 2021, but only if the constitutional amendment is approved by the voters.

Since all Illinois constitutional amendments must be approved by more than 60 percent of voters, it’s up to us to decide the fate of the Fair Tax amendment in the upcoming election.

Check out answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about the Fair Tax.

Take action

JCUA is aiming to collect 3,300 pledge cards in which Illinois voters commit to vote ‘Yes’ on the Fair Tax ballot item on Election Day. Are you moved to support transformational economic justice in our state? Take a pledge! 

WHY JCUA IS INVOLVED

The State of Illinois is critically underfunded, with insufficient revenue generated to pay for necessary social services. The problem has only grown worse in recent years, as agencies and critical service providers have shut down across the state. As the system works now, Illinois is balancing its books on the backs of those least able to pay.

JCUA has been a strong supporter of a graduated income tax for decades. In recent years, we have endorsed the Fair Tax campaign and many JCUA members were involved in the work that put the referendum on the 2020 ballot. Now that we operate through an organizing model — with a membership base of nearly 2,000 across Chicagoland and 12 congregation partners — we have an opportunity to play a strategic role and contribute to a victory in November 2020.

Fighting for and implementing a Fair Tax will serve JCUA’s mission to combat racism and poverty throughout Chicago. The current flat tax system, which generates insufficient revenue for critical public services that low-income people rely on, is yet another manifestation of systemic racism. Governments historically have written tax codes in ways that disproportionately burden the poor and people of color. A Fair Tax will work to relieve some of that burden.

Learn more

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: “Plan to Ditch Flat Tax Is Right for Illinois”
“Beyond making Illinois’ tax system much fairer, the proposal would raise much-needed revenue and help shore up the state’s damaged finances, which stem in part from a two-year budget impasse that ended in mid-2017. The state faces a $3.2 billion budget deficit and is carrying about $8 billion in debt from unpaid bills and interest, such as backpay for state employees and overdue payments to contractors, health care providers, universities, and small businesses.”

Responsible Budget Coalition: “Why a Fair Tax is Important to Illinois”
“Illinois suffers from one of the most unfair taxing systems in the nation, as it fails to tax people relative to their income – contributing to a structural deficit, inadequate levels of core services to Illinois communities, and a bruised state economy. A Fair Tax would lower rates for the working and middle-class families in Illinois and increase rates for the people who can afford them – our state’s highest income earners.