2020 Year in Review on the Civic Federation Blog

December 31, 2020

The following are excerpts or summaries of the five most read posts presented on the Civic Federation’s blog in 2020* in chronological order. The posts examine issues related to local taxes and budgets and the State of Illinois’ proposal for a graduated income tax.

How Will Illinois Tax Recreational Cannabis?

December 19, 2019

[In 2019] Illinois became the first state to legalize retail sales of recreational adult use cannabis via state statute rather than by referendum. In addition to implementing a regulatory regime and expungement process, the legislation also puts into place excise and sales taxes on recreational cannabis. This blog explains the tax rates at the state and local levels and provides a comparison to other states that have legalized recreational cannabis.

*While this blog post was initially published in 2019, not 2020, it has been included here because it was published just shortly before the “2019 Year in Review,” and additionally saw record high single-day traffic on January 2, 2020.

Increases and Changes to Consumer Taxes in Chicago for 2020

January 10, 2020

Annually the Civic Federation releases a report on consumer taxes in the City of Chicago. Consumer taxes are tied to the use or consumption of certain goods and services that can be charged directly to consumers through retail transactions or passed onto consumers by businesses or governments. Consumer taxes in Chicago are imposed at various levels of government including by the City of Chicago, Cook County, the State of Illinois and federal government. This blog highlights the increases and other changes that several consumer taxes have undergone since the Civic Federation’s 2019 consumer taxes report released on January 16, 2019.

The Civic Federation’s 2020 consumer taxes report is available here.

Graduated Income Tax Proposal Part II: A Guide to the Illinois Plan

March 13, 2020

This blog post looks at [a] major choice that will be on the general election ballot in November: whether to replace the State’s flat-rate income tax with a graduated rate structure. The post reviews the proposed new tax rates and examines who will pay more under the new plan and how much revenue it is expected to raise.

This post and the following one are part of a series on the State of Illinois’ proposal for a graduated income tax, which was ultimately unsuccessful. The blog series was later compiled with additional information into a Civic Federation issue brief on the proposal.

Individual Income Tax Structures in Selected States

March 27, 2020

This blog post presents information about the different types of individual income taxes imposed by state governments in the United States.

In 2020 forty-one states levied individual income taxes. States currently use flat rate or graduated rate models for their individual income tax rate structures. Three states use a variation of the graduated income tax structure, employing “recapture” rates that combine both graduated and flat rate features. Every state has numerous exemptions, deductions and credits that alter the effective tax rate, the actual percentage of income paid in taxes.

Seven states do not impose any individual income taxes. They are Alaska, Washington, Nevada, Wyoming, South Dakota, Texas and Florida. Two additional states imposed income taxes only on interest and dividend income.

What is the Chicago Police Department Budget?

June 23, 2020

In the wake of protests over the deaths of George Floyd and other Black Americans at the hands of police officers, police accountability and reform has risen to the forefront in government discussions, and residents in many cities have called for defunding the police. The defund-the-police movement has called into question the best use of budget resources and whether some issues often handled by police would be better served through community services.

Given the current focus on the Chicago Police Department budget, this blog post examines how much the City of Chicago allocates in its budget for Police Department spending and how budget resources are spread across all of the City’s services and functions.