GOP treasurer candidate continues to push against taxing retirement income

(The Center Square) – Republican candidate for Illinois treasurer Tom Demmer continues to push against his opponent, Mike Frerichs, and vows to stop any possible taxing of retirement income in the state.

Demmer, a Republican state representative from Dixon, faces Frerichs, the incumbent Democrat, in the November election.

Demmer has campaigned against a proposed retirement income tax, which he says his opponent will implement. Frerichs’ campaign says that simply isn’t true.

Demmer spoke Wednesday in Edwardsville alongside Illinois State Rep. Amy Elik, R-Fosterburg, candidate for the Illinois House 112th District Jennifer Korte, and candidate for the Illinois Senate 56th District Erica Harriss.

It was the second news conference Demmer’s held on taxing retirement income.

“Retirement income tax is something that Mike Frerichs during the debate in 2020 said we should have a discussion about,” Demmer said. “Well, if that discussion is going to happen, then we are going to show that a majority of people are against taxing retirement income.”

But Frerichs’ campaign said Demmer’s statements aren’t true.

“Mike Frerichs has never proposed taxing retirement income. He opposes it and will not support it,” his campaign manager, Lauren Young, said in an email to The Center Square. “Anything that contradicts this statement simply is untrue. Anyone who contradicts this statement should be asked, ‘why are you lying?’”

Demmer’s campaign against taxing retirement income is in response to Frerichs and Gov. J.B. Pritzker advocating in 2020 for a constitutional amendment to allow for a progressive income tax system that, according to the Democrats plan at the time, would have been a $3 billion tax increase on higher income earners. Voters ultimately rejected the amendment.

“Two years ago, the people of Illinois overwhelmingly rejected the Pritzker-Frerichs $3 billion income tax increase, with one of the driving forces behind that opposition being that Mike Frerichs said the plan could open the door to taxing retirement income,” Demmer said.

In June 2020, the Daily Herald reported that Frerichs, at a Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce event, told the group that passing the progressive tax would allow the state to tax the retirement income of wealthier Illinoisans.

In August 2020, Frerichs said he wanted to clarify.

“I was not pushing for that taxation,” Frerichs said. “What we talked about was the progressive tax and how that would only affect about three percent of taxpayers out there, taxpayers making more than a quarter of a million dollars a year. That’s something I support. What we were talking about when we talked about retirement income were people … drawing about a half a million dollars a year in pension income. I was talking about an organization that has for years has argued for reducing pension benefits and then was taking the opposite and contractionary opinion.”

Demmer said he does not want the state to end up in a position where taxes are being raised on Illinoisans.

“Spending is growing more than revenues, and the only reason we have been able to post an improved financial picture is due to federal dollars, that’s a one-time deal,” Demmer said. “We need to avoid putting ourselves in a situation where in a couple of years, the Democrats are back in front of us telling people the only way to fix this is by raising taxes, again.”

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