To the Editor:
Illinois’ convenience store owners and gas station clerks have long watched consumers cross the border to purchase goods. With Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed 32-cent increase on the cigarette tax as well as lawmakers’ proposal to double the current gas tax, the situation would only get worse.
Illinois currently has higher excise cigarette and gas taxes compared to neighboring states. If this proposed cigarette tax went into effect, an average pack of cigarettes would cost $8.68. In comparison, neighboring states are about $2 cheaper, with Missouri offering adult smokers a pack of cigarettes for $3 less.
With cigarettes accounting for 28.6% of all in-store sales, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores, this would be disastrous for our border communities and retailers. But this won’t just impact profits and local sales revenue, it will also take a toll on employment opportunities, with convenience stores alone employing 2.5 million people across the nation.
Lawmakers in Springfield are also considering doubling the state’s gas tax to 38-cents per gallon, which would be the second highest in the nation. If this proposal were to pass, Illinois drivers would pay close to a dollar per gallon just in taxes, which would have the greatest impact on low and middle-class families.
While we understand the state’s financial challenges, the solution cannot be taxing businesses out of business. The end result is additional costs to state and local communities and loss of much needed tax revenue.
Bill Fleischli, executive vice president of the Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association and Illinois Association of Convenience Stores