Cullerton wants lawmakers to consider taxing retirement income

Move would allow other tax rates to be lowered, Senate prez says

March 7, 2011

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(WBEZ/Sam Hudzik)
Illinois Senate President John Cullerton speaks at the City Club of Chicago on Monday afternoon.

The president of the Illinois Senate says he wants lawmakers to consider taxing income earned by retired people in the state.  State Sen. John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said that doing so could raise up to $1.6 billion.

Currently, most retirement income is not taxed by Illinois.

"If we wanted to do that, we could do a floor - maybe the first $50,000 that people make wouldn't be taxed," Cullerton said on Monday, following a speech to business and government leaders at the City Club of Chicago. "But then we would take that money and lower other people's tax rates. It would just be a matter of fairness."

It would be a tax swap, of sorts. Cullerton said the move would allow the state to lower, for example, the corporate tax rate.

This would be a tough proposal to pass, especially since seniors vote in large numbers and the legislature just raised the income tax rate in January.

Gov. Pat Quinn was noncommittal on Monday when asked about the idea of taxing retirement benefits, though he said  "everything should be looked at."