Illinois, stop taxing us to the poorhouse

Political wrangling in Illinois stooped to new lows yesterday, when Democratic lawmakers (by a single vote) approved a 66 percent hike in income tax. The measure now moves to Gov. Pat Quinn for approval (and he’s indicated he will sign it).

I can’t speak for others, but that makes me MAD!

This vote came in the waning hours of a lame duck session; not a single Republican voted for it, and the new, more Republican General Assembly apparently can’t do a thing other than squawk about it.

Sure, we have a budget deficit in the Land of Lincoln. Sure, we haven’t been able to pay our state’s bills in a long time. Sure, our bond credit rating is in the pits.

But come on! Now they’re going to raise personal income tax from 3 percent to 5 percent. Corporate tax will go up nearly 50 percent, from 4.8 percent to 7 percent.

How the heck do they think they’re going to be able to keep residents and businesses here with taxes that high? As one lawmaker quipped, My advice is to invest in moving vans.

No kidding!

A person making $50,000 a year will see his state taxes increase from $1,500 to $2,500.

This, during an already-lean and difficult economy.

No wonder officials in both Indiana and Wisconsin are reportedly salivating about luring some of the Illinois businesses seeking to flee such a tax burden!

The really aggravating thing about this cowardly move is that it’s not going to stop the rampant spending that got us into problems in the first place. Every resident, every small businessperson, knows you can’t dance like there’s no tomorrow — eventually, the piper must be paid.

And you can’t blame one political party any more than the other. Both got us into this mess; both will have to work together to get us out of it.

It’s bad enough having our “dirty laundry” aired for the entire nation (our last two governors — one from each political party — got into high-profile legal troubles for one reason or another). Now we have to be known as a deadbeat state taxing its residents and businesses to the max.

Lawmakers estimate the new taxes will generate $6.8 billion a year, money that will be used to ease the state’s $15 billion deficit. They say they need to fund pensions and make up the federal shortfall, not initiate new programs.

And they say the measure is temporary. After four years, the rate drops to 3.75 percent.

Ya think??

Realistically speaking, which taxing body ever rescinds a tax once it’s in place??

The Tax Man Cometh

It’s time to do my income taxes once again.

I don’t know about you, but I hate putting aside Web design or writing (or even just loafing!) to concentrate on credits and debits — even for a short period.

Must be the writer in me!

But tax preparation is a necessary nuisance — at least until somebody wises up and establishes a flat tax for everybody!

Late last year one of my friends showed me a software program that purports to help. You key in everything on a regular basis throughout the year, then when it’s time to visit your accountant (or do it yourself, if you’re into that), you print out a few pages and Voila! taxes done.

Simple, right?

Well, I bought the program, loaded it into the ‘puter, and fiddled with it a few times, but for the life of me, it just seems like going around your elbow to get to your thumb!

Now, maybe it was because I had a lot of other things on my plate at the time.

Maybe the “learning curve” was steeper than I anticipated.

Maybe it was just too cumbersome to enter a whole year’s worth of data at once.

That’s okay, I told myself. I’ll try again when the new year rolls around.

Here it is mid-February, and my data still isn’t entered.

And I want to be able to say, Voila!

So I’ll gather all my folders and notepads and receipts, separate them into a gazillion piles, add and re-add columns of numbers, and transfer everything to a single piece of paper for my accountant, just the way I always do.

It’s not pretty, but it works.

And I’m used to it.

And doggone it, I’d rather be doing something else anyway!