This November’s election will have a seemingly simple question on the ballot: Do you support an amendment to change the Illinois Constitution? Don’t be fooled. There is nothing simple about this question – it changes the structure of how you pay Illinois income tax. Do not skip over this section. Vote NO.

Currently, the Illinois Constitution (Section 3, Article IX) is explicit that a tax on income shall be nongraduated. The amendment would remove this limitation and instead opens the door for lawmakers to pass a new income tax rate structure.

If the amendment is approved by voters in November, a new progressive income tax rate structure – already agreed to by lawmakers – would take effect. This progressive income tax structure divides Illinoisans into categories based on their level of income, and as income levels get progressively higher, so do the tax rates. Under this progressive income tax structure, the tax rates start at 4.75% and go all the way up to 7.99%. Compare this to Illinois’ current nongraduated, or flat, income tax of 4.95% that fairly applies the same tax rate to everyone in the state.

Since the 1970s, Illinois’ Constitution has ensured that all Illinoisans “equally” pay the same income tax rate. This means if the tax rate increases for one person it increases for all – this is fair. In order to raise taxes, lawmakers must make a compelling case to all Illinoisans to justify their tax vote. Otherwise, they face angry constituents and voters.

This constitutional amendment would change the political calculations legislators make when it comes to decisions about your taxes. While the legislature has always had the ability to set the income tax rate, this amendment would provide them additional political cover. The new structure means lawmakers can pick and choose whose taxes they raise. No longer will they have to worry about statewide opposition to their tax votes from all voters. Instead, legislators can hike the tax rate on only a limited group of Illinoisans, thereby limiting voter backlash that normally follows a tax increase. If only a few people see their taxes going up at a time, it will be nearly impossible to make their opposition heard.

Unlike your vote to elect a candidate to office for a set term, your vote on the constitutional amendment question will have lasting repercussions for decades. It is crucial that you vote in November. Vote on election day, vote early, vote absentee – just make sure you vote!

In November, fill out your ballot and make your selection for president of the United States, for Congress, for the General Assembly, and for your county and city offices. Then, at the end of the ballot when asked if you support the amendment to Section 3, Article IX of the constitution, vote NO.

Dennis Green of Lawrenceville serves as Illinois Farm Bureau Board District 13 director.