Tag Archives: Fair Tax

Political Propaganda and the Illinois Tax Amendment of 2020

The Most Boringest Post I’ve Ever Written…

Do you know what I’m going to bitch about here? Taxes. Yes, taxes. I might bitch about social media propaganda as well. Yay, right? Taxes, that thing that is as inevitable as death, the thing that got Al Capone tossed in jail because he avoided paying taxes, that thing that stresses everyone out at the beginning of each year because no one understands the US’s complicated and intricate tax law. Taxes. Yay.

Poor Phyllis. Strange that AARP is supporting the “Tax Hike Amendment”…

I thought I had a good segue lined up here, but I don’t. Anyways, lately on Instagram I keep seeing sponsored posts like this one. Something about Stop the Illinois Tax Hike Amendment. First off, this is unsettling because a few months ago I jumped ship from Facebook to get away from all the political shitposting/propaganda only to be greeted by this on Instagram. Luckily, this does seem isolated and for the most part Instagram is what you’d expect it to be; people posting pictures. Facebook has totally devolved into a political shit-tossing dump and even if it’s useful 10% of the time, the other 90% consists of people posting politically motivated shit in bad-faith arguments to ‘convince others’ about something that’s usually so dumbed down and logically flawed that it’s hard not to comment something picking it apart. Then the winds of shit really start blowing, Rand.

This Instagram image done got me all hyped up and pissy. Why? A bunch of reasons. The use of ‘trigger terms’ to make you think one thing. The poor old lady not wanting to pay more taxes. Something about “new powers to tax anyone at will.” Okay. The first thing about whatever this ad is trying to push is that it sounds too terrifying. No one wants higher taxes, duh, so why wouldn’t we all vote ‘no’ on whatever amendment it’s talking about? Hell, why did the Illinois State even put something so obviously dumb on the ballot for November when it’ll obviously be shot down by 90% of voters?

Oh wait, it’s because this image is flat-out propaganda sponsored by those who don’t want this amendment to pass, likely rich-ass Illinoisans. What does this amendment actually do?

Illinois, the state I reside in, has a simple flat income tax of 4.95%. Everyone is taxed at this rate no matter their income. I must admit it’s nice come tax time — you subtract any deductions, bust out a calculator, multiply your taxable income by 4.95% and, bam, there’s your tax rate — but this flat rate seems strange. If you look at the federal income tax, it’s a graduated tax, meaning the tax rate depends on your income, while our state has a flat rate. According to Ballotpedia, 11 other states have a flat income tax rate. Hmmm, that’s a strangely low number.

Speaking of Ballotpedia, they have a ton of information on this proposed amendment and if you’re a curious Illinois resident, check it out, do some research. It’s also interesting to see how the two sides speak about this amendment. The supporters, mostly democrats, have a PAC named “Vote Yes for Fair Tax,” while the oppositions, republicans and farmers, have PACs named “Say No to More Taxes” and “Coalition to Stop the Proposed Tax Hike.” Notice how one side claims ‘fairness’ while the other side claims ‘higher taxes.’ These are two totally different arguments. Will this amendment raise taxes? Maybe. Is it fair? Maybe. But these aren’t mutually exclusive.

Here’s a photo of the actual sample ballot and question regarding the proposed amendment. Surprisingly, it does a good job explaining what the hell the amendment actually does.

This doesn’t sound as bad as I was led to believe…

All this does is eliminate the requirement for a flat tax rate in the Illinois constitution. Is that fair? I don’t know, that depends on your view of taxation, but most other states do it this way. Is it going to raise taxes? Yeah, probably, but you’d also assume people with higher incomes, like really high incomes, are going to be taxed to death by Illinois while lower income households might see a small or moderate decrease. Is this good or bad? Well, it depends on what you think is good and bad.

My point here is that this is a subtle thing being voted on in a few months. It’s not the clear cut and dry “higher taxes!” that whatever PAC plopped this fucking ad up on Instagram is claiming. In my opinion the ‘fairness’ argument is a bit better because most people probably do feel that higher income households should pay more, but whatever. I was going to talk about that here, but that seems like it’d just make this an even messier rant. Maybe another time.

In a way this singular ad is representative of what is wrong with our current politics. An ad, one shitty ad on social media funded by people with money, can make people believe one thing when it is nowhere near true or accurate. They toss out a few trigger terms and bad words like ‘higher’ and ‘taxes’ and people immediately foam at the mouth, forming opinions from biases without even looking deeper than their Instagram/Facebook feed. That’s it. They’ll walk into the polling station, vote ‘no,’ possibly against their own benefit, just because something told them that “voting yes” will mean their taxes will go up. Like Billy Bob making $20k a year is going to be taxed at the same 20% that multimillionaires will be taxed at. No, probably not. But he didn’t do any goddamn research and follows right along with what is being spoon-fed to him by people that actually have reason to oppose the amendment.

My entire point is “Don’t be an ignorant voter.” When you see a political ad on social media or anywhere that claims something fucking ridiculously awful, look into it. Honestly I had no idea what this tax amendment was until I saw a ‘vote no on higher taxes’ ad and looked into it. Was Illinois trying to raise taxes? Was it really called “The Tax Hike Amendment?” No one would be that stupid to raise taxes with an amendment named that. When I found the actual proposal, I found nothing wrong with it. “Hey, wait, this is to eliminate the flat-tax rate. Fuck, I like that idea!” I’ve been telling everyone I know what the amendment does and suggesting they vote ‘yes’ on it. I guess that’s the end of my rant. Just don’t be a fucking troglodyte and do your fucking homework. Things you vote on do have real consequences, so go to the voting place knowing something. Don’t see the word ‘tax’ and vote no just because ‘tax’ is a scary word. Don’t think everyone in the government is trying to pilfer your wallet (but be wary at all times!). Don’t let social media sway your goddamn opinions. Google things, read about them, learn a little about taxes, fucking educate yourself.

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