Taking on Fair Tax 2020

Jonathan Elbaz
Sep 4 · 3 min read

Votes have been cast and counted, and we can now announce that JCUA members vigorously support moving forward with the Fair Tax 2020 campaign! We will now prepare to join our coalition partners in educating Illinois residents about this important issue and working to ensure the referendum passes on the November 3, 2020 ballot.

JCUA staff put forward a proposal at the July 31 JCore meeting to participate in a campaign to pass the Illinois Fair Tax referendum. After discussion and deliberation, we conducted a “temperature check” to determine if there was enough support to bring the proposal to the full JCUA membership base. A super-majority of members favored proceeding. We then opened voting to our full membership through this Google form, and the results were overwhelming: more than 97 percent of members who voted were in favor of taking on the campaign.

We believe that Fair Tax 2020 is an opportunity to bring a progressive and equitable tax system to Illinois. While it won’t fix all of the issues regarding representation and taxation, it is a crucial step in the right direction to ensure that every person pays their fair share.

Election Day is 426 days away. The time for organizing around Fair Tax is now!

Read on to learn more about the Fair Tax referendum and why we support it.

What is Fair Tax?

Currently, the Illinois constitution mandates a flat tax system, in which everyone pays the state the same percentage of their income. The current rate is 4.95 percent. On June 5, 2019, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed SB0687, a bill that allows for amending the constitution to implement a graduated (progressive) tax system, in which residents would pay different percentages based on their income. Pritzker signed additional legislation that set forth a schedule of income-based tax brackets (see graphic above). Under this proposal, only those with yearly incomes of more than $250,000 will pay a higher tax rate.

All Illinois constitutional amendments must be approved by more than 60 percent of voters. Voters will decide the fate of the Fair Tax amendment next Election Day, November 3, 2020.

Why do we support Fair Tax?

The State of Illinois is critically underfunded, with insufficient revenue generated to pay for necessary social services. The problem has only grown worse in recent years, as agencies and critical service providers have shut down across the state. As the system works now, Illinois is balancing its books on the backs of those least able to pay.

JCUA has been a strong supporter of a graduated income tax for decades. In recent years, we have endorsed the Fair Tax campaign and many JCUA members were involved in the work that that put the referendum on the 2020 ballot. Now that we operate through an organizing model — with a membership base of nearly 2,000 across Chicagoland and 12 congregation partners — we have an opportunity to play a strategic role and contribute to a victory in November 2020.

Fighting for and implementing a Fair Tax will serve JCUA’s mission to combat racism and poverty throughout Chicago. The current flat tax system, which generates insufficient revenue for critical public services that low-income people rely on, is yet another manifestation of systemic racism. Governments historically have written tax codes in ways that disproportionately burden the poor and people of color. A Fair Tax will work to relieve some of that burden.

Contact organizer Jackie Baldwin (jackie@jcua.org) with questions, concerns and suggestions. If you’re inspired by this campaign to create a more equitable tax system in Illinois, become a JCUA member today.

Jewish Council on Urban Affairs

JCUA is the Jewish voice for social justice in Chicago.

Jonathan Elbaz

Written by

JCUA Communications Manager

Jewish Council on Urban Affairs

JCUA is the Jewish voice for social justice in Chicago.

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