Historically, democracies fail – uninformed voters are too easily controlled by unscrupulous people allowing governments to spiral out of control, or a majority envious of my income can determine what fraction of income I am allowed to keep. In a republic, a constitution provides how all are to be treated – our national is a republic, but in some respects seem to operate as a democracy. Our Illinois state constitution sets a uniform rate tax rate for all segments of our population – but a provision on the November ballot would remove these protections and give the majority (legislature) uncontrolled authorization to segregate our population into different groups with different tax rates.
Our current tax rate of 4.95% which results in richer people paying higher taxes. Taxes on an income of $10,000 in Illinois are $495.00 – income on $100,000 (ten times) results in taxes ten times greater ($4,950.00). The rich already pay more in tax in proportion to their income. To confuse voters, those supporting a move toward a pure democracy refer to our present tax as a flat tax, but that is incorrect. We have a flat tax rate, not a flat tax. A flat tax is found on our toll roads – all cars pay the same, so old Chevrolets and new Cadillacs pay the same toll.
The misleading “Fair Tax” proposal this November removes this fixed percentage for all categories of taxpayers and replaces it with whatever the majority wishes to impose – on whatever group they choose – a push further away from a republic and into a simple democracy. They claim the rich would be forced to pay their fair share, “rich” has a flexible definition while the “fair share” determination remains undefined. Whatever rates are in effect when these constitutional protections are removed from passage of this “fair” tax can be changed at will by any future legislature – people who make a comfortable living can, at the majority’s whim, suddenly become rich.
The security of a constitutionally defined tax rate is also the difficulty the legislature experiences in raising taxes. If taxes are to be raised now, all incomes will be taxed more, thus upsetting too many voters. We must remember the shenanigans successfully employed to raise our taxes a few years ago “temporarily” from 3% (then) to 5%. However, at the end of the designated period, tax rates were made permanent at 4.95%. By carving off a small group to suffer from this “fair” tax – such as the rich, the retired, the farmers, the small business owners – and raising taxes only on them, those pushing this scheme believe too few voters are affected to cause significant problems for the majority.