Most Americans think of tax day as April 15. But the tax day that really matters is Tax Freedom Day: April 24. This is the day in 2015 when U.S. workers will have collectively earned enough to foot the nation’s tax bills. Illinoisans, however, will still be working for government nearly a week later.
Illinois’ Tax Freedom Day falls on April 30 this year, meaning residents will spend nearly a third of 2015 laboring to fund federal, state and local government. This is the latest Tax Freedom Day in the Midwest, tied only with Minnesota, and is at least five days later than every neighboring state.
If Illinois simply fell in line with the average Tax Freedom Day of neighboring states, April 18, residents would have nearly two weeks more pay in their pockets at the end of the year.
The tardiness of Illinois’ Tax Freedom Day highlights the state’s tax-and-spend problem. Since its pre-recession peak, tax revenue for Illinois state government has outpaced every state except North Dakota. But the eighth-latest Tax Freedom Day in the country isn’t enough for some Illinois lawmakers, who in recent months have called for tax hikes in the order of tens of billions of dollars.
Higher taxes won’t solve the state’s fiscal woes – they won’t even stop the bleeding. Neighboring states with more manageable tax and regulatory burdens are welcoming Illinois emigrants and incomes at record rates, and will continue to do so until politicians embrace pro-growth reforms in the Land of Lincoln.
Austin Berg is the assistant editor for the Illinois Policy Institute.