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Good News For Illinois Taxpayers, Or Maybe Just Illinois Tax Nerds

Rahm Emanuel and Pat Quinn may both be pretty vague on their tax-reform ideas, but at least it means important questions about Illinois and Chicago taxes are making the news.

Eric Zorn and Mark Brown both took a look at the Rahm tax—i.e. shifting some of the sales tax burden from goods to services—and didn’t think the savings amounted to much, or anything close to what the campaign promised. The Tribune’s Bob Secter followed up with tax experts and came to the exact same conclusion. I’m proud to say that my extremely rough estimate of “a couple tanks of gas” was not far off–given my household’s combined income and mid-oughts Jetta, two tanks of gas is a good ballpark figure. I don’t mind saving the money, but it’s considerably less than what the Emanuel campaign has suggested.

But this made me want to hug someone…

Experts say the argument obscures a far more serious debate about the way Illinois — and by extension Chicago — has clung to an antiquated sales tax formula that ignores the trend toward spending more on services and less in brick and mortar stores. Illinois is the rare state that doesn’t tax at least some common services like dry cleaning, household repair or hair care.

… because it’s what the Center for Budget and Tax Accountability said last year (PDF), and what Progress Illinois has been emphasizing, and what I mentioned just the other day.

And if that wasn’t enough excitement for the morning, here’s the Trib’s lede from the story about Pat Quinn’s state budget address:

Just weeks after pushing through a major income tax increase, Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday called for Illinois to modernize its tax system to make it fairer but ran into widespread opposition to his hope of borrowing billions to balance the books.

Yes, we did try something like that in 2008, and yes, it failed. No, there are no specifics, outside of the creation of a “Illinois Revenue Reform Commission,” which reminded me of a comment at Capitol Fax:

==What was the tally on how many blue ribbon commissions he created in a half hour?==
I lost count but it would have made a terrific drinking game.

It might be pigs flying, but at least we’re talking about how to make them fly*, which is a start.

* OK, maybe talking about talking about making them fly. Don’t take my simple pleasures away.

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