Should Chicago Have a City Income Tax?

Chicago Tribune columnist believes there is a discussion to be had over whether Chicago should have a city income tax.

No one really enjoys taxes, but they're necessary to help pay for the government services we receive. That's why Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel has pitched a potential property tax increase to help the city make up the pension deficit it currently is facing.

But Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn believes he has a better proposal. Zorn thinks Chicago could be better off with a city income tax.


Says Zorn, "[Revenue-boosting alternatives] all have their downsides. They all risk unintended consequences. They all stick in my craw, and probably your craw, too.

"But if the alternative is a significant decrease in city services leading to a deteriorating quality of civic life, a city income tax is among the least objectionable options for balancing the books."

Zorn has four reasons to support his idea, something he just wants a discussion on instead of outright rejection.


If Chicago were to have a city income tax, the middle class wouldn't be affected too much. That's because there isn't much of a middle class left in the city. We have a map that shows the disappearance of the middle class in Chicago over the past 40 years.


This article appears on all Patch Chicago sites. The views expressed in this post are those of Reboot Illinois and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch or its editors.

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Patch Reader April 14, 2014 at 09:30 PM
Well the rich and super rich will all move somewhere else so they do not have to pay income tax (Walgreens is thinking of moving to Europe to pay less taxes). The poor do not have enough money to fund the city or have no income to be taxed. So who is left to pay the tax? Middle class or if there is no middle class, then where is the taxes coming from?
Alice Riley April 15, 2014 at 10:08 AM
My husband and already spend 40% of every dollar on taxes and that's excluding sales tax. Stop spending time looking for ways to get more blood out of stones and start cutting spending. We already have one of the highest state income tax, gas taxes, and an amusement tax on cable services( which doubled in one year)! Enough or you will have an exodus of people leaving the city and your tax base will shrink.. What are these lawmakers thinking???
Alice Riley April 15, 2014 at 10:12 AM
Oh and in one year our property taxes more than doubled--and that's not even including what the mayor plans to do with increasing property taxes. This state is run by corrupt politicians and union leaders. Their ineptitude has what has led us to this fiscal nightmare and they continue to look the other way and just expect to have the residents pay even more to solve the problems of their own making..
Grumpy Old Man April 15, 2014 at 02:33 PM
@Southeast Side - Well, if all of the middle class has moved out of Chicago it will be others (wealthy, poor, working class) who are paying the tax. If your argument is that there still is a middle class in Chicago and that they will pay the tax, say it. As it is your response just sounds like a left wing shill. Other than your last comment, I happen to think your post has a point because I think implicit in your response is that there is still a significant middle class in Chicago (but if taxes keep going up the comment in the main article could be a self fulfilling prophesy - maybe not - there is some controversy over whether millionaires would leave the state if the 3% additional surtax was imposed on earnings above $1 million).
Grumpy Old Man April 15, 2014 at 02:57 PM
Frankly, I am not so sure that Zorn doesn't have a point. The ever escalating property taxes affect all of us and probably in excess of what we would pay in terms of increased property taxes (or rent increases due to them). However, it would require some trade off - like a reduced property tax level than currently in place and a single taxing entity for Chicago - the council to set all taxes in the City including taxes for CPS. I don't have the answer but I wouldn't mind some reduction in services and something done abut the constitutional provision that these pensions can't be touched regardless of how economic downturns affect the ability of the investments in which the funds are deposited to maintain a pension amount at a given level.


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