Tax Relief

Have enjoyable with Illinois’ new signal requirement about ‘tax relief’ – Wirepoints

By: Mark Glennon*

Illinois lawmakers want to be sure you know about the “tax relief” you’re getting this election year. So, in the waning hours of session they inserted into their budget bill a requirement that private-sector retailers use signs and notations on receipts to tell consumers of how blessed they are.

But don’t get upset. This might actually be fun. Maybe a little creativity with those signs is in order.

The budget bill passed by both houses requires gas stations to post a sign on all pumps saying “As of July 1, 2022, the State of Illinois has suspended the inflation adjustment to the motor fuel tax through December 31, 2022. The price on this pump should reflect the suspension of the tax increase.”

In truth, that’s referring only to a temporary suspension of tax increase of a just 2.2 cents a gallon. That’s a lousy $15 per year according to an economist. That increase was scheduled to go into effect July 1. Now, the increase will be delayed to January 1, assuming Gov. JB Pritzker signs the bill, which is expected.

Illinoisans will still be paying a total of 78 cents in gas taxes, the second-highest in the nation. Gas taxes have gone up about 100% since Pritzker took office.

The thinking behind the sign requirement, lawmakers claim, is that sales tax cuts don’t necessarily get passed along to consumers. The signs supposedly would pressure gas stations away from keeping prices high and pocketing the sales tax reduction. That’s pretty hard to see since there will be no tax reduction, only a temporary suspension of an automatic increase.

Grocery stores also must note on receipts that the state suspended the 1% grocery tax for a year. The message on the receipts must say “From July 1, 2022 through July 1, 2023, the State of Illinois sales tax on groceries is 0%.” If printing messages on receipts is not feasible, then the retailer must post a sign. What good that does escapes me. You don’t get the receipt until you’ve shopped, and grocery is a brutally low-margin business, which would make it hard for stores to pocket the savings.

How to deal with this nonsense?

Use your imagination. The bill only requires that the signs be at least four by eight inches, clearly visible to customers and have the required language in bold face.

But nothing says the signs can’t also say other things, or whatever length and in whatever size, or can’t have another sign right above or below saying whatever you want, far more conspicuous.

Maybe something like the one shown.

Have at it. Suggestions are welcome about what messaging could be inserted, short or long. But try to keep it reasonably clean.

-Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints.

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