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Local Editorials

Who wants to be a millionaire in greedy Illinois?

Politicians have their greedy eyes focused on the riches possessed by Illinois' millionaires. Two new statewide proposals aim to separate the wealthy from more of their money. Millionaires, beware.

Who wants to be a millionaire in Illinois?

Plenty of people, judging from how the number of Lottery players swells whenever big-game jackpots get outrageously high.

But millionaires are in the crosshairs of certain politicians, based on proposals put forth recently in the Illinois General Assembly.

The millionaires' primary antagonist is House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Two days after the primary election last month, Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, proposed a new tax on the income of millionaires.

For people who earn more than $1 million a year, Madigan would tax the overage by an extra 3 percent. If the millionaire tax were in effect now, millionaires would pay 5 percent on their first $1 million of income, and 8 percent on everything above $1 million.

Madigan clothed the constitutional amendment proposal as a funding measure for education. He suggested that the tax would raise an extra $1 billion a year, the equivalent of $550 for each public school student in the state.

Some Republicans pushed back, saying that it was not fair to penalize Illinois' most successful residents. (That number, Madigan estimated, is in the neighborhood of 13,675 millionaires, based on 2011 income tax figures.)

But Madigan's 3 percent surcharge on millionaires has already made it to the House floor, where, knowing the speaker's strong influence, its eventual approval and placement on the November ballot is practically a foregone conclusion.

Millionaires would have to pay more to the state in another area, if Gov. Pat Quinn has his way.

Quinn wants to abolish Illinois' 5 percent deduction on property taxes paid on homes, which appears on state income tax forms. In its place would be a flat $500 refund for real estate taxes paid.

For many Illinoisans, the proposal represents a better deal than they have now.

Not so for millionaires.

People with big incomes usually live in big, expensive houses. If they pay more than $10,000 in real estate taxes, millionaires would get less of a tax break from the flat $500 refund than if they had the 5 percent deduction.

Illinois' millionaires thus can look forward to being dinged by governing politicians for having high incomes and for owning expensive homes.

We doubt that situation will dissuade Illinoisans from buying Lottery tickets and dreaming of instant wealth.

But they should realize that, in Illinois, being a millionaire may soon become a lot more expensive than it used to be.

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