'Hidden Lawsuit Tax' adds to already heavy tax burden

Travis Akin Apr. 17, 2011, 7:00am


Tax Day has become a national day of protest as thousands of Americans gather in cities all across the state to voice their concern about the tax and spend policies coming out of Washington and Springfield.

Here in Illinois, lawmakers have added fuel to the fire by passing a massive income tax hike earlier this year.

But there is more to Illinois' overall tax burden than merely what is in the tax code. In many respects, the cost of political corruption is a kind of "hidden tax." Taxpayers pay dearly when corrupt politicians give jobs to cronies instead of the best qualified people and they also pay when state spending is based solely on political decisions rather than the greater good.

Another "hidden tax" is the price we all pay for the state's culture of lawsuit abuse. The cost of litigation is built into the cost of every item we purchase, and is a "hidden consumption tax" on consumers. A recent report from Towers Watson shows how every man, woman and child in the country pay a "hidden lawsuit tax" of $808 per year, which for a family of four is nearly $3,500 per year. This is money families would probably prefer to spend on other things.

Clearly the "Land of Lincoln" has now become the land of political corruption, high taxes, widespread unemployment and excessive litigation.

According to a report from the respected Harris polling company, Illinois is ranked 45th out of 50 states for judicial fairness. The lack of fairness in our courts not only continues to add to our overall tax burden, but it also makes it difficult to grow the economy and increase the state's tax base. As a result, the tax burden in Illinois is continuing to grow. Unfortunately for us, personal injury lawyers are not offering any refunds or rebates.

While other states such as Wisconsin have passed meaningful legal reforms this year, the window for our own state Legislature to adopt legal reforms is rapidly closing. The sad reality is that surrounding states are aggressively working to make their states more attractive to potential employers while here in Illinois our lawmakers are raising taxes and refusing to enact meaningful legal reforms.

Surrounding states are aggressively targeting Illinois employers in an attempt to lure them away from Illinois. If lawmakers continue the current trend of raising taxes and ignoring the state's poor litigation climate, then it is going to be difficult for Illinois businesses to find compelling reasons to stay in Illinois.

It is time for state leaders to heed the cry of the thousands who will gather at "Tea Parties" all across the state. If our state leaders were not so complacent when it comes to the state's litigation climate, perhaps we would not have to continue to prop up state government with even more of our hard-earned money.

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