Todd Stroger candidly explains cigarette tax
By Tribune Staff Report
April 05, 2009
Great moments in candor:
The subject was ever-increasing cigarette taxes, and the guest on WGN-AM 720 Wednesday morning was Cook County Board President Todd Stroger.
Host John Williams asked: Isn’t it unfair to keep targeting smokers with tax increases?
“That is the American way,” Stroger replied. “And the way that it’s generally done is, you find some group that’s small enough where they can’t beat you up, and you tax them and you tell everybody else, ‘See? We didn’t tax you.’ ”
Illinois Residents:? Help Stop a Tax Increase in Your State!
The Illinois General Assembly is right now considering a proposal by Governor Pat Quinn to increase the state income tax rate by 50 percent, as well as legislation that would double the state cigarette excise tax.
The Illinois Policy Institute estimates that the governor’s plan to raise the personal income tax rate from 3 percent to 4.5 percent would cost Illinois $8.6 billion in lost economic output — more than three times the $2.8 billion in revenue the tax hike is expected to generate.
With Illinois, like the rest of the nation, mired in recession, state lawmakers should be pursuing policies that will spur, not discourage, economic growth!
What’s more, while cigarette tax increases have proven politically popular across the country, time and again history has shown that raising excise taxes does not produce projected revenue.? Of the 57 excise tax increases that states implemented between 2003 and 2007, only 16 met or exceeded revenue targets.? As just one example, when New Jersey increased its cigarette tax in 2006, instead of gaining a projected $30 million in revenue, the state lost more than $22 million.
Illinois’ proposed tax increase would make its cigarette tax rate higher than those of all five bordering states, driving smokers to purchase their cigarettes across state lines, or through untaxed or lower-tax venues, such as Native American territories and the Internet.
When the expected tobacco tax revenue fails to materialize, the politicians in Springfield will end up increasing yet more of your taxes to make up the shortfall!
In addition, excise taxes are regressive, disproportionately impacting the poor and those living on fixed incomes, and the Congressional Budget Office has said that cigarette excise taxes are the most regressive of all.
Spending by the Illinois state government has grown 45 percent per capita over the past 10 years.? With millions of families and businesses in Illinois struggling to make ends meet, lawmakers should be cutting spending and taxes, rather than asking Illinoisans to hand over more of their hard-earned income.
Please tell Governor Quinn and your state senator and representative today to forego raising taxes and instead do what households across the country are doing:? Cut wasteful and non-essential spending to fund vital priorities!
See More:? IL Sales Tax Page Two