Illinois Republican candidates warn of retirement tax

Illinois Republican candidates for statewide offices are criticizing Democrats, who they say are opening a window to tax retirement income.

Mike Thoms, mayor of Rock Island and the GOP candidate for Illinois’ 36th District, joined state treasurer candidate and State Rep. Tom Demmer of Dixon in a news conference Wednesday. 

Thoms said over the past five years of being mayor, he had worked hard, along with City Council, to attract businesses to the city, but it’s been more difficult lately. Thoms said that taxing pensions would put Illinois at a disadvantage. 

“We need to work on building economic development, getting people to want to live in Illinois,” Thoms said. 

The candidates said Treasurer Michael Frerichs suggested the state might tax retirement income, such as pensions and 401(k)s, when Democrats were rallying support for a graduated income tax. The graduated tax ultimately failed, and as a result, Illinois maintained its flat tax rate of 4.95% in which everyone’s income is taxed at the same rate.

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Frerich’s campaign on Thursday disputed suggesting a retirement tax was ever on the table, adding that the state treasurer does not have authority to implement a tax on retirement income. 

Fifty-four percent, or 2.7 million voters, rejected the amendment. 

“We’re standing up strong today (on) behalf of those 54% of Illinois voters,” Demmer said. 

Demmer has created a petition on his campaign website in opposition of a tax on retirement income.

He also filed a House Resolution in the spring to affirm trust in Illinois voters who rejected the path of taxing retirement income. It did not attract bipartisan support or make it to the floor for a vote.

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