Graphic courtesy of the Illinois Policy Institute

By John Ruberry

On Thursday the Democratic-dominated Illinois House, with aid of ten Republicans, overrode Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto of a 32 percent income tax hike. The corporate rate jumped by 35 percent.

Apologists for the income tax increase love to point out that many states have higher income tax rates, but last week’s override places Illinois within the top 20 of the 50 states. And these tax lovers always leave out some painful facts. For instance, while sales tax rates vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, Illinois’ sales tax rates are very high across the board. Chicagoans, at 10.25 percent, pay America’s highest sales taxes. And depending on who you talk to, Illinoisans suffer under America’s largest property tax burden–or they are near the top. Chicagoans deal also suffer with nuisance taxes such as a seven-cents-per-bag tax at grocery stores, and had a judge not temporarily struck down a Cook County–where Chicago is–a penny-per-ounce sugary drink tax would be in place right now. Food stamp recipients don’t have to pay those last two. And those nuisance taxes add up, of course.

As a lifetime resident of Illinois, I can assure you that the services we receive from the state are terrible. Last year the Chicago Tribune phrased it more eloquently, “As a result, Illinois government is a massive retirement system that, during work hours, also offers some services.”

Illinois’ personal income tax rate is now at 4.95 percent and the corporate rate is now 7 percent, but because of a local only-in-Illinois 2.5 percent state personal property replacement tax, the corporate rate is really 9.5 percent, which makes the overall rate the fourth-highest in the nation.

And before these tax hikes Illinois was one of the few states losing population.

So ends the Prairie State’s national record two-year span of operating without a budget.

“Shake Up Springfield, Bring Back Illinois”

Governor Rauner, a Republican, was elected by voters to, as his campaign slogan vowed, “Shake Up Springfield.” While never averse to a tax increase, Rauner, who never held public office before, said he’d approve one as long as it included such items as term limits, redistricting reform, workers’ compensation law changes, and property tax freezes. House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), who has held his job for 32 of the last 34 years, of course views term limits as anathema to him, and this master gerrymanderer created legislative maps that gave the Democrats supermajorities in both chambers of the General Assembly in the first two years of Rauner’s term. The Dems still have a veto-proof majority in the Senate.

One of the reasons the Republican General Assembly members who sided with Madigan gave for their votes was that Moody’s and S&P warned that if Illinois didn’t have a budget in place for fiscal year 2018 its bonds would be rated as junk. Guess what? Moody’s says it might downgrade Illinois’ bonds anyway. The new taxes don’t address how Illinois will tackle its $100 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. Pension payments already consume a whopping one-quarter of the Illinois budget. And even assuming enough funds are there for Illinois schools to open in the fall, more legislation is needed for allocating that cash. The state has over $15 billion in unpaid bills-which is over 40 percent of the ’18 budget. That backlog will take years to pay off. Adding to the debacle is a late June ruling by a federal judge for Illinois to pay $586 million per month to bring down its past-due Medicaid bills. Which means that other vendors will have to wait even longer to get paid. How many of them will go out of business waiting for their bills to be settled?

Didn’t I mention that Illinois is losing population?

Blogger at the border

At best, the Illinois budget deal is a band-aid for much more serious problems.

Rauner is a candidate for reelection in 2018. That task was made more difficult by the manner that the tax hike was passed. In the first go-round 15 Republicans–the Madigan 15–voted for the tax hike. That allowed Boss Madigan, who has been chairman of the state Democratic Party since 1998, to allow, yes, allow 11 Democrats in vulnerable districts to vote “No.” In the override vote, four of the Madigan 15 voted “No.” Another one missed the roll call. Of course Madigan “found” the other five votes among his caucus.

Democratic candidates for governor are of course calling the tax increase “bi-partisan.”

But already one Madigan 15 member has announced he’s not running for reelection.

In my opinion bankruptcy, even though it will be called something else, is still coming to Illinois, despite this budget “fix.”

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Some kind of mask at the Chicago Moons the Trump Tower rally two months ago

By John Ruberry

On Saturday, three days before the deadline to file 2016 federal income tax returns, there were a couple of dozen rallies across the nation that called for President Donald J. Trump to release his returns to the public.

The republic somehow managed to survive nearly 200 years before Richard M. Nixon, under pressure by the way, became the first president to release his federal tax returns.

Yesterday I worked. I was building my income for next year’s tax deadline date, so I cannot pass on my eyewitness observations on any of yesterday’s anti-Trump rallies. But as with another tax-related anti-Trump gathering, one that I did see in person, Chicago Moons the Trump Tower, according to media reports, there were many colorful costumes, including masks, as well as meticulously designed signs. Leftist rallies are part protest and part Mardi Gras. For the progs these festivals are nothing more than a way to blow off steam, and a less expensive method than a session at a shrink’s office, unless, of course, you spent a lot of money on your Trump mask with devil horns, bright orange hair, and a Hitler mustache.

The mainstream media, that is the anti-Trump media, fawned over this springtime Festivus, unlike the dismissive tone they took with the 2010 Tax Day Tea Party rallies, which were arguably the halcyon moment of the Tea Party movement, that is, until Trump’s election last year.

Blogger running the Boston Marathon in 2004

“Someone should look into who paid for the small organized rallies yesterday. The election is over,” Trump tweeted this morning. And yes the election is indeed over. Despite last year’s haranguing by the Democrats and their media allies, Trump still won the presidency even though he didn’t make his returns public. That bus left the station. Very few Americans passionately care about Trump’s tax returns, unlike such concerns as keeping more of their income.

But there is an upside to Saturday’s frivolities. At least those leftists who designed those striking Trump masks already have their Halloween costume in hand. Make Halloween Great Again.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

 

Grixdale
Grixdale

By John Ruberry

Type “Detroit revival” or “Detroit comeback” into your Google search box and you’ll collect a lot of hits and discover glowing yarns about the turnaround of what was once one of America’s greatest cities. Here’s one from Forbes just last week. There is even a Pure Michigan TV commercial about Detroit.

But as John Adams once famously wrote, “Facts are stubborn things.”

Yes, there is a Detroit bounceback underway but it is centered in downtown and the neighborhoods that border it. That’s it.

Then there are the facts.

The fiscal year for Detroit Public Schools ends on June 30. On July 1 there is no money for summer school or physical upkeep, unless the state rushes in for a rescue. Such a rescue should not be confused with a proposed $720 million one that will deal with DPS’ long-term debt.

Adding an exclamation point to the problems of DPS last week was a former school principal who pleaded guilty to accepting kickbacks from an allegedly crooked supplier. A dozen other DPS officials, most of them former principals, have also been charged with collecting kickbacks.

Abandoned Detroit school
Abandoned Detroit school

When I visited Detroit last summer I ventured into the neighborhoods outside of its downtown ring. Places like Grixdale. This is a typical 21st century Grixdale block that in 1950 that had twenty homes each with wage earners with fat wallets: Two occupied homes, two abandoned homes, the rest are rubbished filled vacant lots with coarse weeds.

Detroit has some millstones that will impede its recovery. Its commercial property tax rates are the highest in the nation and city services are substandard. Detroiters are burdened with a municipal income tax and possible future Detroit residents who want to dip their toe in the Motor City water by taking a job in the city are subject to a commuter tax. And Detroit is still a very violent city.

Just last week a study was released that discovered that Detroit has the least storefront concentration of any big city.

Look for the Detroit comeback, such as it is, to proceed very slowly.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

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As the last hours of tax day pass let me direct you to a pair of tax day piece for your approval.

First:  No Taxation without understanding

During the American Revolution, one of the major objections the colonists had was the taxation by the British crown without having any representation. While the problem of taxation without representation has been solved, it has been replaced by something almost as bad and nearly as destructive: taxation without understanding.

and there are costs for this ignorance

Being illiterate of the tax code has the same effect as actual illiteracy. It makes you dependent on others to tell you what is true and what is false. It allows you to be led. The more complicated the code the easier you are to manipulate. And that’s also why simplifying the tax code will be one of the hardest things to get done; too many people have a vested interest in keeping you in the dark.

Meanwhile with the passing of tax day 2015 we come a year closer to a tax day that Democrats dread:

the so called “Cadillac tax,” which is a 40 percent excise tax on high value health care plans. Like many parts of Obamacare, its implementation was put off to delay opposition.

It’s one of the last big parts of the Affordable Care Act to go into effect — lawmakers delayed the levy until 2018 in part because it is so controversial — but companies are wrestling with it now as they plan employee benefits. Some are already negotiating with unions over benefits that could spill into 2018.

And as my colleague here at Watchdog Arena,  Moe Lane, points out, a lot of people didn’t think it would ever see the light of day

You’ll want to check out both pieces (and Moe’s too.) not to mention the rest of the great stuff at Watchdog.org

Illinois flag on right
Illinois flag on right

By John Ruberry

Illinois, or at least its major newspapers, is finally waking up.

Nearly 12 years of Democratic rule in Illinois has brought debt, continued corruption, the nation’s worst-funded state pension system, and high unemployment.

Most polls show the race between incumbent Pat Quinn and Republican newcomer Bruce Rauner to be a dead heat, although the latest poll on the race shows Quinn with only 40 percent support–which is a terrible position for ant incumbent to be in.

Quinn of course does not have a decent record to run on, so he is taking a page from Obama 2012 playbook by attacking Rauner for being a successful rich businessman.  The Chicago Democrat, who twice was Rod Blagojevich’s running mate, narrowly defeated his Republican challenger in 2010, Bill Brady, who ran a awful campaign. Back then Quinn stumped for a slight increase in the state income tax, but in a lame duck session, the Democrat-controlled General Assembly passed a “temporary” 67 percent hike in the personal income tax rate and a 45 percent hump in the corporate rate.Rauner sign

Quinn now claims that he never said that his tax hikes, which are stifling Illinois’ economy, were temporary–but videotape, unlike Quinn, does not lie. The tax increases expire at the end of the year–but Quinn plans another lame duck assault on Prairie State wallets.

Rauner instead envisions tax reform, a loosening of Illinois’ onerous workers compensation system, and extensive pension reform  as part of his rescue plan for the state’s 12.8 million residents. He looks to Indiana’s successful former governor Mitch Daniels as a role model for a Rauner administration.

As for Quinn, he’s not fooling the editorial boards of Illinois’ major newspapers. So far Rauner has earned endorsements from the Chicago Tribune, Crain’s Chicago Business, the Daily Herald, the Belleville News-Democrat, the Champaign News-Gazette, and the Peoria Journal Star.

Chicago sunrise
Chicago sunrise

Three years ago the Chicago Sun-Times said they would stop endorsing candidates, but yesterday the paper all but said they were getting back into the game only so it could declare its support for Rauner. The paper is making no other endorsements this fall.

I held my nose and visited Quinn’s campaign site and clicked on the endorsements link. It’s dominated by unions and other predictably liberal groups. But according to my research and Quinn’s site, as of this writing, not a single Illinois newspaper has endorsed the Chicago Democrat for another term.

It’s time for the rest of the Land of Lincoln to wake up for Morning in Illinois and throw Quinn out of office.

John Ruberry, a fifth generation Illinoisan, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Illinois BlagoBy John Ruberry

In his 35-year public career, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has carefully developed a persona as one of the few honest politicians in a state that has seen four of its last eight elected governors serve time in federal prison.

When he faced the voters four years ago, Quinn, who twice was the running mate of jailbird Rod Blagojevich, encountered daunting odds as he sought to earn a full term as governor. He utilized that persona to deflect the Blago stench. But the Great Recession hit Illinois harder than most of the other states–as it does now, the Prairie State had billions in unpaid bills.

Quinn’s 2010 GOP opponent, downstate state senator Bill Brady, ran a weak campaign and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory–losing by 30,000 votes, even though otherwise it was a fabulous year for the Illinois Republican Party, flipping four congressional seats and snatching Barack Obama’s former Senate seat.

Gov. Pat Quinn,  (D) Illinois
Gov. Pat Quinn,
(D) Illinois

But “Mr. Clean” Quinn had a couple of jokers in his 2010 deck of cards. The Chicago Democrat lied about the rate of the income tax increase he favored, and as I explained in a prior post on this blog, one month before the election, Quinn commenced the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, an anti-violence program that turned out to be nothing more than a political slush fund to drive up the November vote for Quinn in heavily Democratic areas such Chicago and parts of its Cook County suburbs. Cook was one of four counties that Quinn won in 2010, Brady prevailed in the other 98.

The NRI is now the subject of a federal criminal investigation.

And not only did Quinn lie about the rate of the income tax jump he sought to pay off the old bills that I mentioned earlier, but he said the hike enacted would only be temporary–now the phony-reformer now wants to make that increase permanent. The Democratic supermajorities in the General Assembly, which exist only because of the grotesquely gerrymandered 2011 remap signed into law by Quinn, balked at Quinn’s expensive request this spring.

John "Lee" Ruberry
John “Lee” Ruberry

As for the 2014 race, Quinn has managed to find a couple of more joker cards. He signed into law an Election Day registration bill that applies only to the November general election. The same legislation dispenses with the need for a photo ID for early voting. Illinois has a long history of vote fraud, most of it involves Democratic politicians. And playing to the White House’s imaginary War on Women by conservatives, Quinn approved an advisory referendum asking voters if they believe employers should cover birth control in their employee health insurance plans, which is nothing more than a fawning attempt to drive liberal activists to the polls.

Yet there is one card that Quinn can’t use with voters this time around–an honest reputation.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Hornblower bowed, but as the Colonel remained unbending he stiffened to attention. He could recognize that type of man at once—the servant of a tyrant, and in close personal association with him, modeling his conduct not on the tyrant’s but on what he fancied should be the correct behaviour of a tyrant, far out-Heroding Herod.

C.S. Forester Flying Colors 1938

IRS during the 2012 election season election season

IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman told Congress in March 2012 that the IRS was not targeting groups based on their political views.

“There’s absolutely no targeting. This is the kind of back and forth that happens to people” who apply for tax-exempt status, Shulman told a House Ways and Means subcommittee.

IRS today with the election safely won:

The Internal Revenue Service inappropriately flagged conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status, a top IRS official said Friday.

Organizations were singled out because they included the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their applications for tax-exempt status, said Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups.

I’m sorry people this is positively Nixonian and if this was a GOP president rather than Barack Obama there the entire press corps would be up in arms and wouldn’t stop shouting till he had resigned.

Class action anyone?

Update: A thought to for the MSM, after today I don’t want to hear a single word about how paranoid people on the right are over Manchin/Toomey and guns ever again.

Update 2: Legal Insurrection further notes

Remember, the IRS is the Obamacare mandate enforcer. What level of confidence do you have as to fair enforcement, and that “low level” IRS employees will not misuse information gained in connection with assuring compliance with the health insurance requirements? (I’ve been warning about that since August 14, 2009, IRS The New Health Care Enforcer.)

With the exposure of the Benghazi deceit and the IRS political attacks, I have zero confidence that the Gang of 8 border enforcement or other supposed protections actually will be enforced.

Anyone who trusts these people are fools.

Update 3: Michelle Malkin,

Kudos to the Tea Party activists who first blew the whistle and to Mark Levin and the Landmark Legal Foundation, who pushed back against the Bully Brigade

and Allapundit

News of the harassment made it all the way up to Congress last spring — and yet only now, months after the election, are we finally seeing the IRS come clean. Go figure.

To this day, the left-wing Democratic water-carrying hacks known as Media Matters remain fully tax-exempt. Congressional hearings are now a fait accompli; what I want to know is who’s getting fired in the meantime. Obviously house will be cleaned at the Cincinnati branch. What about Lerner herself? Stand by for updates.

I wish I could say I was surprised.

Update 4:  Added the Hornblower quote for those who insist it’s just a low level thing.  Nobody is a bigger tyrant than someone who serves one.

Update 5:  Mitch McConnell is demanding the White House investigate, Bryan Preston comments:

There should be an investigation. The White House should under no circumstances conduct that investigation.

I agree.

 

This story certainly sounds like a Red Meat story for people:

To get a sense of just how mind-bogglingly complex the federal tax code is, consider:

• More than 80% of individuals hire someone or buy software to help file their taxes, though only 64% of filers owe them, according to the Tax Foundation. So millions of filers pay for help to learn that their tax liability is zero.

• About two-thirds of low-income filers pay to have their taxes done, the Tax Policy Center found.

• The tax code has at least six definitions of a child, more than a dozen different education-related tax breaks and at least 16 different kinds of tax-favored savings plans.

That’s very true but there is one claim in the story that just plain false:

It now takes seven hours to fill out the so-called 1040 EZ.

I’m sorry I do my taxes by hand on paper as I have ever since I started doing taxes. It is true that the code is very complicated but there is no way on God’s Green Earth that you can take 7 hours to fill out form 1040EZ.

If you haven’t filled it out lately here is the link to the form and see for yourself.

Not counting name and address it is a whole 13 lines and you only use 12 of them max.

Let’s summarize:
Continue reading “7 Hours for Form 1040EZ? That’s just not true”

…How many people in the middle and lower classes write paychecks?

If you want jobs to be created you need to make the cuts for the people who PAY employees.

The problem with democrats is they use the tax code as a punitive measure, not to raise revenue but to “get” people they don’t like. That’s not tax policy that self-righteousness.