Illinois: hitting up the poor for their bottom dollar
If you’ve ever seen Disney’s Robin Hood, you might remember a scene where the rotund sheriff of Nottingham steals the birthday present of a 7 year-old rabbit, a gold coin his poor rabbit family scrimped and saved to give him.
The state of Illinois is getting in on that action.
The report measured the threshold at which states stop taxing – how low you can go until you don’t owe. Illinois? We can go pretty low.
A family of four living at the poverty level – $22,017 for the year – pays $214 in state income taxes.
We’re still a-taxing at three-quarters of the poverty line – $16, 513 for a family of four.
People often ask me, “Why do people stay so long in public housing? Isn’t it meant as a stepping stone to get out of poverty?”
Well, public housing rents in Chicago are 30 percent of your income. You make a little more – a 50 cent raise on the minimum wage you get at your job – and you pay a little more. Any extra you get – that you might have saved for a security deposit on your own place or for a higher rent – it goes away.
We can’t expect the poor to miraculously rise out of poverty if we keep stealing the little bits they’re able to save.
$200 isn’t much, but to family making $22,017 a year – it’s a lot. Think about what that can buy. Winter coats for kids who outgrew last year’s. A month’s worth of groceries at Save A Lot. This year’s Christmas presents. Your kid’s school uniforms. A good chunk of rent money. An insurance premium. A doctor’s bill.
This policy is draconian. Sure, the state of Illinois needs money. But surely it can find better revenue sources than this.
We need to change the tax laws, or find a modern-day Robin Hood.