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Column: Be wary of the bait and switch

Column: Be wary of the bait and switch

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John Donald O'Shea

John Donald O'Shea is a retired circuit court judge and a columnist for The Dispatch-Argus.

Illinois presently has a 4.95% flat income tax rate.

In the November 2020 election, Illinois voters will be asked to approve a new "progressive" income tax.

A progressive income tax is a graduated tax, as opposed to a flat rate tax. Our governor, a Democrat, and his party cronies in the Legislature call their new graduated income tax a "Fair Tax" to gull the gullible.

But what is a Fair Tax? This Fair Tax is a graduated tax at whatever rates the Legislature hereafter approves and the governor signs.

Here's how the con works. Your Democrat-controlled Legislature, at the request of the governor of the same party, Pritzker, has by law already set the graduated income tax rates, which will take effect as soon as the voters approve amending the Illinois Constitution to permit their "Fair Tax."

Those rates are a scam.

To induce the gullible to approves their "Fair ('graduated') Income Tax" referendum, the Democrats in the Legislature have set the following teaser rates:

For single or joint filers with incomes up to $10,000, the rate will be 4.75%. (The present flat tax rate is 4.95%.) If your income is $10,000, your tax savings will be $20.

For single or joint filers with incomes over $10,000 and up to $100,000, the rate will be 4.90%.

On $100,000, you'd save $50.

For single or joint filers with incomes $100,000 and up to $250,000, the rate will be 4.95%.

Your tax savings will be $0.

The rate then increases to 7.75% if you file single and have an income over $250,000 up to $350,000; or if you file jointly, and your income is over $250,000 and up to $500,000.

The rate increases to 7.85% if you file single and have an income over $350,000 up to $750,000; or if you file jointly, and your income is over $500,000 and up to $1 million.

The rate increases to 7.99% if you file single and have an income over $750,000; or if you file jointly, and your income is over $1 million.

So, if your income is not greater than $250,000, you may ask what's so bad about Pritzker's "Fair Tax?"

Imagine that you are in the market for a new home. You find one you really like. The "asking price" for the house is $150,000. You arrive at closing, but a hitch develops:

The seller says, "Oh, by the way, the 'asking price' was only my 'asking price.' It is not my 'final price.'

You say, "What? Well, what is your final price?"

The seller responds, "I can only give you a ball park price now. Sign the papers, and I'll give you the 'final price' maybe a month from now."

Would you sign the closing papers and agree to buy a house without knowing the "final price?" Or would you be a bit wary the seller might be engaging in a bait and switch?

Recall, the "asking price" was $150,000? Would you sign the papers and trust that the "final price" would not be $300,000? Or $500,000?

If you put a new furnace in your home, would you make a check out to "Harry's Furnace Service," sign your name and tell Harry, "Just put in whatever amount you feel is fair?"

Now, why am I giving examples of bait and switch?

Right now, unless you approve the November referendum, the Democrats in the state legislature cannot impose any "graduated" or "progressive" income tax. To get the power to impose their "Fair ("graduated") Tax," the Democrats in the Legislature need you to approve their referendum.

Approval requires either the approval of 60% of voters voting on the question, or greater than 50% approval from all voters who cast ballots in the election.

Once you have approved their referendum, you have given them a blank check. You have stuck your head in the lion's mouth, opened the gates of Troy and welcomed in the Trojan Horse with rapacious Greeks lurking in its belly.

Once you hand Democrats the constitutional power to impose a "graduated" or "progressive" income tax, they can change the rate at their will.

The day after your amendment, the Democrats in the Legislature can go back into session and double, triple or quadruple the rates. You are giving them a blank check to insert whatever rates they want.

If you don't think Democrats will raise the rate whenever they think they need more money, think again. Look what happened after the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed authorizing the federal graduated income tax.

In 1913, the bottom bracket paid 1%, with the top rate at 7%.

Today, federal rates range from 10% to 37%.

During World War II, the top bracket was 90%.

I don't mention Republicans because the are a virtually extinct species in Springfield.

John Donald O'Shea is a retired circuit court judge and a columnist for The Dispatch-Argus.

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