This fall, Illinoisans will have the opportunity to vote yes on the Fair Tax constitutional amendment. The Fair Tax amendment would eliminate the requirement for a single rate “flat tax” and lower tax rates for people with low and moderate incomes. This amendment will also improve the lives of Illinoisans living with or vulnerable to HIV and chronic conditions.
For over 35 years, AIDS Foundation Chicago has worked with and on behalf of people living with, or vulnerable to, HIV. This work necessarily includes supporting policies directly related to accessible and equitable healthcare for our communities. The Fair Tax is one of those policies.
The existing tax structure creates harmful levels of equality because everyone faces the same income tax rate, which means that Illinois disproportionally relies on working families to generate tax revenue. The lack of resources for schools, healthcare, and housing, show that this version of stark equality often leaves our community members and neighbors without necessary resources. This is why we must consider the Fair Tax in the context of equity, not equality.
Equity seeks to meet needs with the understanding that these needs are not uniform. Equity is the lens that sees the difference between a single multi-millionaire paying 4.95% of their income in taxes, a family of six with two part-time-employed adults in the household paying 4.95% of combined incomes in taxes, and a middle class family of four with one full-time adult in the household paying 4.95% of their income in taxes. These differences often make one family more likely to maintain wealth and access to private resources while others struggle to maintain the precarious footholds of upward mobility. These differences are also reflected in the needs of people living with or vulnerable to HIV. For our communities, the Fair Tax will generate additional tax revenue and support services that provide and advocate for improved access to healthcare, more stable housing, and greater food and nutrition.
The Fair Tax will decrease or maintain current tax rates for all but 3% of Illinoisans, with only those earning $400K+ annually facing increases, and the projected tax revenue is $3 billion. That additional $3 billion will make upward mobility less precarious, it will provide students with what they need to learn, and it will encourage families to seek the healthcare they need by expanding and funding vital services that seek to uplift marginalized individuals and communities – this includes those living with or vulnerable to HIV and AIDS.
Voting yes on the Fair Tax ensures that our taxes are used to represent and respond to the needs of all Illinoisans and will lead to stronger, more equitable communities.
Aisha N. Davis, Esq.
Director of Policy, AIDS Foundation Chicago