Most people know that we are being taxed too much and that the property taxes are a major thorn! BUT, there is a way for Winthrop Harbor and Zion to get much needed revenue without raising taxes - and possibly even lowering property taxes. Read on!
If you are a property owner in Massachusetts, you must by law remove and/or treat snow and ice on all walkways and parking lots, zoned residential or business. That means: shovel, plow and/or use salt. If you don't, you will be held liable for any injuries caused by the snow/ice on your property. Other states have similar laws.
Illinois has no such law. In fact, the law states in the Liability For Falls On Snow And Ice (#125.00), "As a general rule, property owners have no duty to remove natural accumulations of snow, ice or melt water from their premises." That's it. No fines or legal action except in rare cases.
In the Illinois Snow and Ice Removal Act, "It is declared to be the public policy of this State that owners and others residing in residential units be encouraged to clean the sidewalks abutting their residences of snow and ice." Encouraged? I never feel "encouraged" to shovel... especially when it's below zero, the wind is blowing, or the snowplow dumps snow where you just shoveled! I do it out of common courtesy, obligation, and necessity. And it's not just sidewalks, but mailboxes too. Most people shovel theirs out... but not all.
In cities like Boston, Worcester, and Lynn, sidewalks in front of businesses or residences MUST be shoveled and safe to walk on. If you (property owner) don't, you will be fined. In Worcester, you must remove snow and ice from sidewalks 10 hours after it stops snowing or be fined $75 per day. In Lynn, it's $50 per day. Most comply, especially after the first fine, but a certain percentage won't. And if you won't pay the fines, it's tacked on to your property taxes.
In a winter like the one we've been through, for the city of Lynn, that's over $1,000,000 in fines! In Winthrop Harbor or Zion, that would have been $100,000 to $500,000 in extra funds and relief! There would also be extra work for some in shoveling and plowing. But for now... hey, spring is around the corner! And with the winter we've had, that's relieving for everyone!
Last month I wrote about the 3 major taxes we are all hit with - property, sales, and income. And if that wasn't enough (it should be), there are more taxes than you and I even know! Let's start with your paycheck. It's not just federal and state income tax... hardly! What about the state and federal unemployment tax? You know, to give money to people who can't or won't find a job? Working men and women are paying for it! Then there is Medicare tax and Social Security tax - separate from income taxes.
There is a real estate tax, different than property tax. And there are plenty of "hidden" sales taxes, but I'm going to write about all the other "hidden" taxes. Actually, I'm going to list just some of them... I don't have enough room, nor do I know all of them!
Are you ready? Are you sitting down? Okay, here we go. There is the capital gains tax, corporate taxes, luxury taxes, school taxes, taxes on all the utilities that you use, fuel taxes, insurance taxes, recreational vehicle tax, worker's comp. tax, and parking taxes, just to name a few.
Now let me talk about your telephone taxes. You have the telephone federal excise tax; federal universal service fee tax; federal, state, and local surcharge taxes; minimum usage surcharge tax; usage charge tax; recurring and non-recurring charges tax; and telephone state and local taxes. Why so many different taxes? That way it won't look like that much... Give me a break! The average state and local tax on your cell phone in Illinois is 17.2%. Add on the federal taxes, and that average rises to 21.8%! In some areas it is close to 30%!
You also have fees, licenses and permits which are just other names for taxes - make no mistake about it. There are building permits, which in many cases raises your property tax. There are many other permits, fees, licenses, fines, registration costs, etc., etc. - too many to list! If there's a charge, it's a tax!
Parking taxes are crazy in Chicago. Together with the price of parking, it's easily $25 and up per day - in some cases, over $50 a day! Which brings me to my next point. I went to Chicago Botanic Garden in August with my daughter for her birthday and the parking was $25. No problem, since they charge no other price for admission. It is a way to support them. The parking attendant went on to explain that I could declare the charge as a tax deduction since they are a non-profit organization. Well, $24 of the $25 anyway; the other $1 was a tax!
There is no escaping the long arm of the government. Remember this basic rule: If you need it, want it, use it, or go to it, you're going to be taxed! If you total all the taxes and forms of taxes you pay, it is nearly half of your income - and in many cases, more. And be assured, the taxes will be higher next year!
Anybody who understands the tax system knows that working men and women are taxed too much. Everyone knows the three big ones - income tax, sales tax, and property tax. In Illinois we feel them all, but in many states these taxes vary.
Oregon, Montana, New Hampshire, Alaska, and Delaware have no general sales tax. Illinois is one of the highest for state sales tax at 6.25% plus extra local sales tax on top of that, which can get as high as 10.5%! Could you imagine that... buying something and paying no sales tax on it? That would be great. Illinoisis one of the highest for state sales tax at 6.25% - plus extra local sales tax on top of that, which can get as high as 10.5%!
Some states have NO state income tax. That's right, none. Nine states to be exact: Washington, Nevada, Texas, Wyoming, South Dakota, Alaska, Tennessee, Florida, and New Hampshire. What about Illinois?... 5%.
All states receive property taxes but some are better than others... by a long shot! The state with the best percentage of home value paid in property tax is Louisiana @ .18%. Other states with a fair property tax include Alabama ( .33%), Delaware ( .43 %), West Virginia ( .49%), South Carolina ( .50%), and Arkansas ( .52%). Illinois is one of the highest @ 1.73%!
Let me explain in terms of money - If you had a house worth $200,000, (or should I say, the government says it's worth $200,000) you would have to pay $3,460 every year. In Louisiana you would have to pay (are you ready for this?), $360! In Alabama you would pay only $660, and in Delaware you would pay $860.
Wyoming is one of the best states overall, with no state income tax, low sales tax ( 4%, and no tax on food), and .58% of property value due the state. Even our neighbor to the north, Wisconsin, has a low sales tax... 5%, with no tax on food.
I have one question. Forget that, I have many questions! Okay, I have one main question. With all the money (our money!) pouring into the state treasures, how is Illinois broke!! This I know... we shouldn't be!