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Personal finance publication Kiplinger has ranked all U.S. states to determine which is the most, and the least, tax-friendly, based on the tax burden placed on residents.
According to the publication, Wyoming is the most tax-friendly. Illinois takes the bottom spot least tax-friendly, primarily due to the property tax burden.
According to Kiplinger, Illinois averages $2,048 in property taxes per $100,000 of home value, compared to $635 for Wyoming. Illinois wasn’t the only Midwestern state to land in the 10 worst spots, as Wisconsin was ranked 4th least friendly, Ohio 8th, and Iowa 9th.
In fact, a summary by Kiplinger of Illinois’ tax environment states:
“Illinois’ economic woes are one reason why the Prairie State tops our list of the least tax-friendly states in the country. The state ranks #50 in the latest ranking of states’ fiscal health by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, and residents are paying the price with higher taxes.
The state’s 4.95% flat income tax rate actually isn’t that high when compared to other states, but other taxes are a doozy. For example, property taxes in Illinois are the second-highest in the nation. On a $400,000 home in the state, the average annual property tax bill would be an eye-popping $9,634.
Sales taxes are high, too. In some municipalities, combined state and local sales taxes exceed 10%. Most states exempt food and drugs from their sales tax, but that’s not the case in Illinois.”
For more information, visit https://www.kiplinger.com/tool/taxes/T055-S001-kiplinger-tax-map/index.php.
Salary history law goes into effect
On Sept. 29, a new law took effect that bans employers from asking applicants about their salary history. Proponents of the new law believe it will reduce the wage disparity for female and minority workers.
Under the new law, applicants will be allowed to volunteer salary history, but employers cannot use the information to make hiring decisions. Violations of the law could result in fines up to $10,000.
Controversial sterilization facility to remain closed
Sterigenics, the company that operated a medical instrument sterilization facility in Willowbrook, has announced that they will not be re-opening the facility.
The operation came under scrutiny in the summer of 2018, after the United States Department of Health and Human Services released a report warning that people in the area around the facility faced some of the country’s highest risks of developing cancer, largely due to levels of ethylene oxide (EtO). Sterigenics utilized EtO as a significant part of their sterilization operation.
Local leaders, concerned residents, and state lawmakers immediately began working on legislation to stop the emissions of EtO from the facility. Meanwhile, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) temporarily closed the facility in October 2018 to conduct a safety investigation, and eventually issued a seal order on the containers of ethylene oxide in February 2019. This summer, a new law created the nation’s most robust regulations on EtO use and emissions, and the company negotiated an agreement with the IEPA to reopen after installing new safety equipment. However, due to the possibility for further legislation on the matter advancing during the upcoming fall veto session, along with continued strong resistance from the community and apparent issues with the facility’s lease, the company this week announced that it would be leaving the Willowbrook area.
October is Cyber Security Awareness Month
Throughout October, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology are working with local municipal agencies to raise awareness of cyber-security issues and to help educate people on how to stay safe online.
Security tips from the agencies include:
· Configure your computer securely.
· Use privacy and security settings in your software, email system, and web browsers.
· Regularly update your anti-virus software to identify and thwart new strains of malicious software.
· Keep software, and operating systems updated. Install all software updates as soon as they are available. Using the “auto-update” setting is the best way to ensure timely updates.
· Use strong passwords.
· Cybercriminals use automated programs that will try every word in the dictionary in a few minutes. When creating a password, use at least 10 characters, with a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
· Be cautious about links and attachments. Even communications you receive that appear to be from friends and family may contain links to malicious sites, so be careful when clicking on links in those messages. When in doubt, delete it.
For more information, visit https://www2.illinois.gov/ready/Pages/default.aspx.
Heating assistance program begins
The enrollment period for the state’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) opened earlier this week. The program offers assistance with heating bills for households at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. That income level ranges from around $1,500 per month for a single person to just over $3,200 per month for a family of four.
On October 1, enrollment opened for seniors ages 60 and older, as well as for households that contain a member who is disabled and receives a permanent disability benefit. On November 1, enrollment expands to households with children younger than six, and homes where service has been or soon will be cut off. After December 1, all other qualifying households may apply. For more information, visit https://www2.illinois.gov/dceo/communityservices/utilitybillassistance/.
***Report Courtesy of the Office of Illinois Senator Jil Tracy***