Senate bill would take a cut of lawn care, group warns
An amendment to Senate Bill 9 has received a lot of press for its plan to impose a 6.25 percent sales tax on streaming services and cable TV, but the lllinois Policy Institute is warning homeowners that the bill also would grab some green from landscaping companies.
Senate Bill 9 applies the 6.25 percent tax to a wide range of yard services, including lawn care, such as mowing, watering and aerating, weeding, mulching and raking leaves. Tree and shrub trimming and removal would also fall under SB9’s additional sales tax. In fact, Tori Hutchinson's (D-Chicago Heights) streaming tax amendment would add snow removal to the mix.
Also subject to the tax: planting trees, shrubs and flowers; laying sod; applying any chemicals, spraying or fertilizing; and installing or repairing sprinkler systems, fences, trellises, and retaining walls (unless they are made of asphalt, tar, macadam, or poured concrete). Finally, leveling the topsoil in preparation for sod placement, also known as grading, would be subject to the new sales tax as well.
That means that this additional tax would hit small business owners the hardest, the institute says. According to the Small Business Development Center, 72 percent of lawn, landscape and tree trimming businesses nationwide have five or fewer employees.
According to the institute, the “grand bargain” -- which is dying if not already dead -- would raise taxes across the state by $7 billion and includes a permanent income tax hike. Tax hikes aren’t something that citizens in the state support, the group says.
The institute commissioned two polls by Fabrizio, Lee & Associates concerning the state’s financial status. The results: Sixty-seven percent of Illinois residents would support a permanent property tax freeze that would continue unless broken by a local vote.
More than half of those surveyed said “spending cuts should be the only tool used to close the budget deficit,” the institute reported. Even those who supported some tax increases still believed that spending cuts were necessary to balance the state budget, with 80 percent responding in favor of cuts.
The Illinois Policy Institute has written extensively about the state’s budget crisis and pointed out in a 2015 article that the income tax hike in 2011 resulted in $31.6 billion dollars of additional revenue for the state, but the money went almost entirely to pensions. In fact, explained the institute, 89 cents out of each additional dollar went to fund pensions.
The institute has put forward its own proposal to solve the state’s woes. In an article titled Budget Solutions 2018: Balancing the State Budget without Tax Hikes, it proposes several measures, including a property tax freeze.
“The plan fills Illinois’ $7.1 billion budget hole, balances the state budget without tax hikes, provides tax relief to struggling homeowners through a comprehensive property tax reform package, and implements pension reforms that comply with the Illinois Constitution and will begin to end the pension crisis,” the institute argues.
The plan also calls for reforms to the Medicaid program and higher education spending. It is viewable on the institute’s website: www.illinoispolicy.org