Monday, January 17, 2011

What's worse than taxes?

Complaining about taxes. It's futile. Like, obviously, complaining about life's other inevitability -- death.

Nobody likes to pay taxes, but taxes are just one of those necessary things if you like roads and schools and police and social safety nets and other stuff.

Nobody likes their taxes to increase either. But here's a fact: state governments (like the federal government) are in huge, huge trouble. Just terrible financial shape. They're doing so poorly because the economy is doing poorly.

Simply cutting spending is not going to solve the problem. The cuts would be so deep we'd be living in the Road Warrior movies. And simply cutting government employee pensions and benefits (the latest bogeyman) is not going to solve the problem either. (Though I think they should have to sacrifice like everyone else.)

I'm fine with Illinois raising our income tax rate. It was ridiculously low. Laughably so. Three percent? As the New York Times points out, "the top rate is 10.55 percent in California, 8.97 percent in New Jersey and New York, and 7.75 percent in Wisconsin."

Yes, we suffer under high sales taxes, and gas taxes and, I guess, property taxes. But even with all that, we still rank 30th among all the states in overall tax burden. We'll likely climb the charts with this increase, but it's long overdue, given the fiscal shape we're in.

I'd actually like to see an even higher, and progressive income tax than the flat tax we have now. That would be fairer. And maybe it would allow us to lower regressive taxes like the sales tax.

As a self-employed person, I pay a lot of taxes for that privilege. (I know, I just paid them last week.)

But I don't complain, because that's the choice I made. Just as I don't complain about high taxes in Chicago, because I consider it a privilege to live here. It's a great city. An expensive one, and justly so.


Pernille said...

wow, three percent in income tax??? I pay 40 percent - maybe I should move to Illinois ;)

Rob Biesenbach said...

Well, we pay federal taxes, too, of course ..

sexywriter said...

The property tax situation here is insane. It's the highest in the US. Our sales tax is also the highest. If you own your own home, the tax rates will kill you. It's killing us enough to want to move out of state.