Indiana is less taxing than Illinois

Indiana is less taxing than Illinois

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once described taxes as "what we pay for civilized society."

While most people would consider Illinois and Indiana more or less equal in terms of civilization, Hoosiers unquestionably are paying far less in taxes for it.

Here are seven comparisons that highlight some of the significant tax differences between Illinois and Indiana.

Sales tax

Sales taxes generate nearly half the general fund revenue collected in Indiana that's used to pay for education, transportation, health care and nearly everything else state government does, provides or supports.

Indiana imposes a 7 percent sales tax on nearly all retail purchases no matter where in the state, or even online, the transaction occurs. Only California has a higher statewide rate.

The state sales tax rate in Illinois is 6.25 percent. But Illinois cities and counties are permitted to add a local sales tax on top of the state charge, often pushing the effective sales tax rate well above what Hoosiers pay.

For example, the combined sales tax rate in the city of Chicago is 10.25 percent, one of the highest in the nation. Orland Park is 9.75 percent, Bolingbrook 8.5 percent, Naperville 7.5 percent and Schaumburg 10 percent.

Neither state generally assesses sales tax on services, such as hair cuts, auto repairs or lawyers. But Indiana leaders reportedly are looking to expand the sales tax to services as a way to lower the rate without reducing state revenue.

Income tax

Approximately 65 percent of Illinois state revenue annually is generated by the state's 4.95 percent income tax on individuals, and 7 percent income tax on businesses.

Indiana is comparatively less dependent on the income tax and charges lower rates: 3.23 percent for individuals; and 5.75 percent on businesses.

Both Illinois and Indiana are among just eight states with a flat income tax, as such every resident and business pays the same rate no matter their earnings. Most other states tax individuals with higher incomes at higher rates.

Unlike the sales tax, Illinois localities are not permitted to collect a local income tax. However, Indiana counties must impose a local income tax on individuals, which sometimes pushes what Hoosiers pay above the Illinois rate.

Lake County residents, for example, pay a 1.5 percent county income tax on top of the 3.23 percent state rate, for a combined income tax rate of 4.73 percent -- nearly matching Illinois.

The 2.864 percent local income tax in Jasper County, and the 2.02 percent rate Indianapolis residents pay in Marion County, means those Hoosiers pay a higher total income tax rate compared to Illinois when the Indiana state rate is added in.

Property tax

Property tax caps amended into the Indiana Constitution in 2010 ensure that Hoosiers bear one of the lowest property tax burdens of any state in the country.

Indiana caps property taxes at 1 percent of assessed value for owner-occupied homes, 2 percent of assessed value for rental properties and farmland, and 3 percent of assessed value for business and industrial properties.

So the owner of a $200,000 home in Indiana never will pay more than $2,000 a year in property taxes, and often pays less, unless voters approve a referendum for a temporary property tax increase or the property is subject to special charges.

Property taxes in Illinois are not similarly capped and often vary widely depending on how much local governments, including school districts, want to charge property owners. Education in Illinois largely is funded by property tax dollars.

According to the Tax Foundation, the average effective property tax rate in Illinois is 2.32 percent for an owner-occupied home. As a result, the owner of a $200,000 house would be charged $4,640 in property taxes in Illinois, and likely much more in Cook County.

Cigarette tax

There's a good reason why the Indiana side of the Illinois-Indiana border is lined with tobacco stores -- lower taxes.

Indiana's cigarette tax is just $0.995 per pack. Whereas, cigarette purchasers in Chicago are taxed by the state of Illinois ($1.98 per pack), Cook County ($3 per pack) and the city ($1.18 per pack).

The combined $6.16 per pack cigarette tax is the highest state-local cigarette tax in the country.

Cigarette purchasers in most Cook County communities outside Chicago pay the sixth-highest combined state-local tax at $4.98 per pack.

Hoosier lawmakers this year are considering hiking the state's cigarette tax rate by $2 per pack. While unlikely to become law, cigarettes in Indiana still would cost at least $3 less than Chicago if the higher tax were enacted.

Alcohol taxes

With Hoosiers no longer forced to shop in Illinois on Sundays to buy alcohol for at-home consumption, they also no longer are required to pay the higher Illinois alcohol taxes.

Illinois alcohol purchasers pay an excise tax of 23 cents per gallon of beer, $1.39 per gallon of wine and $8.55 per gallon of liquor.

Chicago and Cook County tack on additional tax of 29 cents per gallon of beer in the city and 6 cents in the county, up to 89 cents city andup to 45 cents county per gallon of wine, and $2.68 city and $2.50 county per gallon of liquor.

Combined Illinois and local sales taxes of up to 10.25 percent also are added to each purchase.

In Indiana, alcohol purchasers pay an excise tax of only 12 cents per gallon of beer, 47 cents per gallon of wine and $2.68 per gallon of liquor.

Indiana charges sales tax of 7 percent on alcohol purchases.

Fuel taxes

Most Illinois and Northwest Indiana gas stations get their fuel from the same source, the BP Whiting refinery. But filling up in Indiana almost always is cheaper due to Illinois' local taxes.

In both states you pay 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax.

Illinois adds a 19 cents-per-gallon state gas tax and charges 6.25 percent state sales tax. Indiana's gas tax is higher at 29 cents per gallon, as is the state sales tax at 7 percent.

But then Cook County (6 cents) and Chicago (5 cents) each tack on a local gas tax, and Illinois cities and counties also charge local sales tax -- ranging from an additional 4 percent in Chicago to 3.25 percent in Lansing to 1.25 percent in Crete.

Tampon tax

While individuals usually find lower sales tax rates on items purchased in Indiana, consumers buying feminine hygiene products might find it in their financial best interest to shop in Illinois.

An Illinois law that took effect Jan. 1, 2017 exempts tampons, menstrual pads and menstrual cups from state and local sales taxes of up to 10.25 percent that previously were applied to those products.

Illinois is among 11 states that have eliminated sales tax on feminine hygiene items as part of a national fairness initiative that seeks to remove taxes from necessities used by only one gender.

Hoosier lawmakers repeatedly have rejected attempts to exempt menstrual products, along with diapers, from the state's 7 percent sales tax.


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