Wednesday, October 09, 2019

UIS/NPR Illinois survey finds a majority of Illinois voters support a graduated income tax

The 2019 Illinois Issues Survey conducted by the University of Illinois Springfield Survey Research Office and NPR Illinois finds a majority of Illinois voters support the proposed graduated income tax constitutional amendment that will appear on the November 2020 ballot.

The proposal would amend the Illinois Constitution and replace the current flat tax with a graduated income tax. According to an Illinois Senate joint resolution, the new system would provide a “fair tax system” where lower income tax rates would apply to lower income levels and higher rates would apply to higher income levels.

Support for the graduated income tax grew from 57% in 2018 to 67% in 2019, according to the Illinois Issues Survey. However, there is a vast difference in partisan support for the proposal. Democrats/Democratic-leaning voters (79%) are much more likely to support the graduated state income tax than Republican/Republican-leaning voters (49%) and non-leaning independents (59%).

“We are more than a year out from the November 2020 vote,” said A.J. Simmons, Ph.D., director of the UIS Survey Research Office. “Between now and then, those in favor and opposed to the amendment will be sharpening their arguments and increasing ads aimed at swaying voter opinion. It will be interesting to see how public opinion reacts to those efforts.”

The age group most likely to support the proposed graduated income tax constitutional amendment is respondents ages 18 to 34 (71%), a slight contrast with the lowest supporting age group, those ages 45 to 59 (64%). Across regional lines, results are quite similar among Cook County (69%), the collar counties (63%), and downstate counties (67%).

There are differences in support among race groups, with blacks (79%) favoring the tax more than any other group, while whites (63%) and Hispanics (67%) responded more similarly.

In regards to income, support for the tax is at 70% for those with incomes under $45,000 and drops to 65% for household incomes between $45,000 and $100,000. Support drops further to 62% for individuals reporting a household income over $100,000.

“Slightly less than a third (29%) of respondents believed they would pay more with the proposed tax, with a plurality (46%) thinking they would pay about the same,” said Simmons.

The Illinois Issues Survey found 57% of Illinois voters are closely following news surrounding the proposed graduated state income tax constitutional amendment. There is also some optimism surrounding the impact the graduated income tax could have on the state. Two-thirds (66%) of respondents believe it will have a positive effect on the financial health of the Illinois government.

The 2019 Illinois Issues Survey was designed and analyzed by the staff of the Center for State Policy and Leadership, the Institute for Legal, Legislative, and Policy Studies and the Survey Research Office at the University of Illinois Springfield. The survey was fielded from Sept. 13-23, 2019 among a sample of 1,012 registered voters as part of an online panel provided by Qualtrics. For all respondents the credibility interval is plus or minus 3.5. While a margin of error is often used to express uncertainty in polling, for online surveys credibility intervals are used to measure the accuracy, or uncertainty, of the survey.

A full summary of this portion of the 2019 Illinois Issues Survey can be found on the UIS Survey Research Office website. For survey analysis and questions, contact A.J. Simmons, Ph.D., director of the UIS Survey Research Office, at 217-206-8109 or

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