Reports

Public Pensions: Frequently Asked Questions

Release: January 21, 2016

Ever want to know what the average pension is for a state employee? What’s a funding ratio, and what are the funding ratios for the different pension funds? How much did benefit increases cost the pension systems? How much did investment losses contribute to pension underfunding? What’s the biggest factor for underfunded public pensions in Illinois?

We’ve got answers to those questions and many more in this convenient document, "Public Pensions: Frequently Asked Questions."

Capturing Resource Wealth to Invest in the Future: Possible Structures and Potential Benefits of an Illinois Coal Severance Tax

Release: October 23, 2015

This report compares the structures of severance taxes in other states and analyzes the potential benefits of instituting a coal severance tax in Illinois.

It Is All About Revenue: A Common Sense Solution for Illinois’ Fiscal Solvency

Release: September 9, 2015

This Report offers a solution to Illinois' longstanding fiscal shortcomings. There are a number of common sense, data-driven initiatives that will modernize the tax code—and still keep Illinois relatively low tax. The Report details how changes to Illinois' tax policy, primarily to its income and sales taxes, and re-amortizing its pension debt can completely eliminate its structural deficit.

It Is All About the Revenue: Why Both Current FY2016 General Fund Budget Proposals Fall Short

Release: August 12, 2015

This Report provides a detailed analysis of both Governor Bruce Rauner’s and the General Assembly’s two very different proposals for the FY2016 General Fund budget. Both budget proposals would cut services and increase the state’s deficit due to the phase down of the temporary tax increases in the state’s personal and corporate income tax rates that became effective on January 1, 2015. Collectively, those income tax rate cuts will cause Illinois’ General Fund to lose $4.6 billion in recurring revenue over the course of the full fiscal year.

Issue Brief: Expanding the Base of Illinois’ Sales Tax to Consumer Services

Release: May 20, 2015

This report identifies why expanding the base of the state sales tax to include consumer services—like pet grooming, haircuts, country club membership, health clubs, and lawn care—would simultaneously help to stabilize revenue generation for the state’s fiscal system, while reforming tax policy to comport with the modern economy. 

As detailed in the report, Illinois is one of 45 states that impose a general sales tax. And while the state-only sales tax rate of 5 percent is below the national average state-only sales tax rate of 5.5 percent, Illinois’ sales tax rate is applied, in large part to the sale of goods (like clothing and furniture) and not services (like pet grooming, health clubs, lawn care, and haircuts). Illinois’ sales tax applies to few services. In fact, of the 45 states with a general sales tax, the average number of service industries taxed is 51; Illinois is an outlier, taxing only five consumer service industries. And that is why the state’s sales tax policy fails to jibe with the modern economy. Indeed, over 72 percent of the Illinois’ economy is derived from the sale of services, while just 17 percent stems from the sales of goods.

Expanding the Base of Illinois’ Sales Tax to Consumer Services Will Both Modernize State Tax Policy and Help Stabilize Revenue, estimates that $2.105 billion in additional revenue could be generated if Illinois’ sales tax base was expanded to include primarily consumer service industries, while excluding business-to-business transactions and professional services. This could go a long way toward addressing the state’s fiscal difficulties. The report also notes that by broadening the state’s sales tax base, Illinois may also be able to reduce the state’s sales tax rate if policy makers so choose. 

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