Illinois named worst state for the middle class

Illinois finished poorly on Kiplinger list due to the impact on the middle class state's flat income tax rate, average combined state and local sales tax and high property tax burden.

Updated: December 8, 2022 - 11:28pm

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A new report lists the Land of Lincoln as the least tax-friendly state in the nation for middle-class families.

The report was done by Kiplinger and ranked the 10 worst states for middle-class families when looking at the state's overall tax burden.

"Sorry, Illinois, but you're the least tax-friendly state in the country for middle-class families," the report said.

Illinois finished poorly on the list due to the impact on the middle class from the state's flat income tax rate, average combined state and local sales tax and its high property tax burden that ranks second highest in the country.

"We have an extraordinarily high tax burden, and you're asking the middle class to foot the bill for everything that we do in government," state Rep. Mike Marron, R-Danville, said. "We're not very judicious with how we spend money in Springfield, which is a huge problem. The middle class bears the brunt of that."

Illinois is a donor state, which means they give more in federal taxes than the state receives per capita, said state Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago. He claims this is the main issue hurting the middle class.

"We need to overcome the fact that we are a donor state," Ford told The Center Square. "When you look at what states are more friendly to taxpayers, they are usually not donor states."

Ford said that past leadership has also played a part in hindering the growth of the state's middle class.

"We had a horrible tenure of [former Gov. Bruce Rauner] that really hurt the taxpayers," Ford said. "It's been a combination of being unable to bring more money back from the federal government and mismanagement over the years."

Rauner hasn't been in office since 2019 and served only four years. Former Democratic Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan served for nearly 40 years and faces two dozen federal corruption-related charges tied to his role as speaker.

Marron told The Center Square that Illinois might be too far into trouble to fix issues plaguing the middle class.

"I think being realistic, the state is set in its ways, and it would be tough to change, but that does not mean we should not try," Marron said. "That also doesn't mean that we cannot change things."

Illinois is one of six states in the Midwest listed on Kiplinger's top 10 worst states for middle-class residents.