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Doug Finke

Pritzker opens door to services tax, then campaign says no

Spokeswoman says J.B. still opposes it

Spokeswoman says J.B. still opposes it

Democrat gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker said Thursday the state should consider extending the sales tax to services as part of a way to bring in more revenue.

Shortly after, his campaign said Pritzker misspoke.

Pritzker appeared before The State Journal-Register editorial board Thursday in a discussion that focused heavily on state finances and taxation.

Pritzker has endorsed a progressive income tax, although it would take several years to amend the state Constitution to bring that to reality. He was asked what steps he would take as governor to raise revenue more quickly while work on a progressive income tax continued.

Pritzker said he believes the state should legalize marijuana and tax it, which could potentially raise $1 billion. He also said he believes the state should look at sports betting as a revenue source.

“Then there are areas in the sales tax system that we could look at, to expand sales taxes into services,” he said. “Those are three areas we can bring revenue into the state.”

Asked later if he had any specific services in mind, Pritzker said he did not.

“It’s just that if we have to look for revenue sources, that might be a place we can look,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker’s campaign issued a statement later Thursday contradicting that statement.

“As J.B. said in the past, he opposes a sales tax on services,” said campaign spokeswoman Galia Slayen.

“J.B. has been clear in his support for a fair tax that would require the wealthy like himself and Bruce Rauner to pay more, while Bruce Rauner thinks he should be paying the same rate as a child care worker struggling to make ends meet.”

The campaign also referred to a debate Pritzker attended in January with other Democratic candidates for governor in which he was the only one to oppose extending the sales tax to services.

Gov. Rauner has called for extending the state sales tax to some services, but the idea has never been approved by the General Assembly.

Services in Illinois are not generally subject to the sales tax. Some fiscal watchdogs have argued the state is missing out on badly needed revenue because it taxes very few services.

Earlier this year, the Civic Federation recommended that Illinois apply the sales tax to 14 services that are also taxed in Wisconsin – including the internet and landscaping – as part of an overall plan to stabilize state finances.

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