Pritzker’s Income Tax Bill; Free Tax Filing; Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes In IL

May 06, 2019
 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker outlines his plan to replace Illinois' flat-rate income tax with a graduated structure with rates ranging from 4.75 percent to 7.95 percent, depending on income, at a state Capitol news conference on Thursday, March 7, 2019 in Springfield. The Democrat says his plan would generate $3.4 billion in additional revenue, make the wealthy pay more, and would keep tax bills the same or make them lower for 97 percent of filers. Only six states have flat-rate income taxes.

John O'Connor/AP

It’s a long road to changing our state’s income tax system, but on Wednesday Governor Pritzker and his supporters took a big step forward and got the plan through the state Senate. And the website TurboTax promised the IRS that lower-income earners could file for free, but the company has kept users away from its free version on purpose. And as hate crimes against Muslims in Illinois and the rest of the country become more visible, a new report out today tracks the millions of dollars and thousands of groups that are fueling anti-Islamic hate in America.

The General Assembly has four weeks to debate, vote on, and pass bills. In both his inaugural and budget addresses, Governor JB Pritzker laid out many big-ticket items that he wants the Democratically-controlled statehouse to send to his desk. The big news this weekend is that Gov. Pritzker reached an agreement with key lawmakers on a plan to legalize recreational marijuana in the state starting next January. The proposed legislation would legalize recreational use of the drug for adults 21 and older. Purchases would have to be from licensed dispensaries, and Illinois residents could possess up to about an ounce. The measure, which is set to be introduced today, would also automatically expunge some existing marijuana convictions.

But there’s one other item that Gov. Pritzker has made a hallmark of his first year, and that’s changing the structure of our state income tax. And now that measure is making its way through Springfield. The minimum wage bill is already law, and there are other bills around things like sports betting and legalizing cannabis. But the biggest one has always been a change to the state income tax from a flat system to a progressive one. This would require higher-earners to pay more. Ultimately our state’s constitution will need to be changed, but for now Governor Pritzker and his supporters have cleared the first of many hurdles by passing his plan through the state Senate. For more we're joined by Amanda Vinicky, correspondent with WTTW Chicago Tonight. And Peter Hancock, statehouse reporter for Capitol News Illinois.

And -

Tax Day was a little more than two weeks ago, and we all do our taxes differently. Some people have accountants and others file themselves by hand. But one of the most common tools out there is the tax prep site, TurboTax. TurboTax, and companies like it, promised the IRS that people making 66 thousand dollars a year, or less, can file for no charge. But it turns out, these companies have made it extremely difficult to actually find and use the free version of their services. Which means that many lower-income Americans have been paying for something that they’re entitled to use for free.

According to reporting by ProPublica, this is a feature, not a bug, of TurboTax’s system. We're joined by Propublica reporter Justin Elliott. 

Plus - 

Muslims around the world, and right here in Illinois, are beginning to celebrate their holy month of Ramadan. Unfortunately, here in Illinois, this holiest of times has been marred by an attack against one suburban Chicago family. It comes also as CAIR, the country’s largest Muslim civil rights organization, is releasing a report that tracks the millions of dollars that are fueling extreme anti-Muslim hate movements. The money isn’t just coming from fringe groups, but from mainstream charity foundations.

Ahmed Rehab is the Executive Director of the Chicago chapter of CAIR. He joins us now from Chicago.