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What tax changes could happen in Arizona, Colorado and Illinois?

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what tax changes could happen in arizona colorado and illinois

While the eyes of the world will be on who wins the White House next Tuesday, there is plenty of other action going on across the US.

Every year, states across the country vote to elect local representatives and to change local laws, on issues ranging from same sex marriage to legalising psychedelic drugs.

Unsurprisingly, many of those will concern the money in people’s pockets. Voters in 12 states next Tuesday will be asked to vote on 19 measures which could affect the taxes they pay on their incomes, properties or purchases.

With the question of how to pay for the coronavirus crisis one that is at the front and centre of the political debate on both sides of the Atlantic, This is Money looks at three states asking voters to put their money where their mouth is.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden are competing for the White House next Tuesday, but further down the ballot states are asking voters' views on a whole range of topics

Donald Trump and Joe Biden are competing for the White House next Tuesday, but further down the ballot states are asking voters' views on a whole range of topics

Donald Trump and Joe Biden are competing for the White House next Tuesday, but further down the ballot states are asking voters’ views on a whole range of topics

Could Illinois abolish its flat tax?

Illinois, the Midwestern state home to the Windy City of Chicago, is asking voters to abolish part of its 50-year-old constitution which currently requires it to tax all citizens at the same rate.

It is worth noting at this point that Americans pay both federal taxes to the US Government in Washington DC and then a variety of state taxes, in a similar, if much more complicated, way to how people in the UK pay tax to HMRC and then council tax to their local authority.

US federal income tax rates, like ours, are progressive, in that they increase according to the amount people earn, but the way states run their affairs is up to them. 

Many, most notably Florida and Texas, don’t tax people’s incomes at all, while Illinois is currently one of nine states which levy a flat tax.

Illinois is one of 9 US states with a flat income tax, but is asking voters whether they wish to change to a system which would charge people more if they have higher incomes

Illinois is one of 9 US states with a flat income tax, but is asking voters whether they wish to change to a system which would charge people more if they have higher incomes

Illinois is one of 9 US states with a flat income tax, but is asking voters whether they wish to change to a system which would charge people more if they have higher incomes

Taxpayers are charged 4.95 per cent of their net income regardless of their earnings, the ninth-lowest top tax rate in the US among those states which do charge income tax, although those in the state do pay comparatively high taxes on property.

It is one of three Midwestern states, along with Indiana and Michigan, which taxes its citizens this way.

And while the vote is only on repealing the language from the state’s own constitution that requires a flat tax rate, if voters approve it, from January Illinois will instead replace it with six tax bands of between 4.75 per cent, for those earning up to $10,000 or £7,707, to 7.99 per cent for those earning more than $750,000, or around £578,000.

How could income tax rates change for those in Illinois? 
Earnings  Old marginal tax rate  Potential new marginal tax rate 
$0 – $10,000 4.95% 4.75% 
$10,001 – $100,000  4.95%  4.90% 
$100,001 – $250,000  4.95%  4.95% 
$250,001 – $350,000  4.95%  7.75% 
$350,001 – $750,000 4.95%  7.85% 
$750,001+  4.95%  7.99% 

The only people who would pay more under the proposals would be those earning more than a quarter of a million dollars, meaning around 175,000 people will foot the bill for the supposed $3billion tax rise.

Illinois was already in massive financial trouble before the coronavirus, facing a massive hole in its pension fund. 

But the pandemic has made things much worse. It faces a budget shortfall of around $6.2billion, or £4.78billion, this year and saw its income tax take fall by 23 per cent annually between April and June.

However, arguments in favour of the proposal have mostly centred on making the tax system fairer, rather than as a way to raise taxes on the rich to cover the cost of the coronavirus.

Even though Illinois is near certain to vote for Joe Biden on Tuesday, driven by heavily Democratic Chicago, the campaign has become one of the most expensive state ballot initiatives in history.

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34953678 0 image m 6 1603894819526

Illinois governor JB Pritzker (above) has poured $56.5m (or £43.5m) of his own money into the campaign to change Illinois' tax system, while opposition to the measure has been largely bankrolled by hedge fund boss Ken Griffin

Illinois governor JB Pritzker (above) has poured $56.5m (or £43.5m) of his own money into the campaign to change Illinois' tax system, while opposition to the measure has been largely bankrolled by hedge fund boss Ken Griffin

Illinois governor JB Pritzker (above) has poured $56.5m (or £43.5m) of his own money into the campaign to change Illinois’ tax system, while opposition to the measure has been largely bankrolled by hedge fund boss Ken Griffin

Supporters and opponents have together raised more than $121million, or £93million as of the end of last month. 

It has largely been a fight between two billionaires, with the money in support of the measure largely coming from Illinois governor JB Pritzker, part of the family who own the Hyatt hotel chain.

On the other side, US hedge fund manager Ken Griffin, the 120th wealthiest person on Forbes Magazine’s rich list, has poured in $53.75million to try and stop the measure from passing, while another $750,000 has come from Pritzker’s own cousin Jennifer.

In a poll in February, before the pandemic, 65 per cent of 1,000 people surveyed said they favoured a tax system where those on lower incomes paid less and those on higher incomes more.

Could Arizona slap an extra tax on the rich?

Arizona has voted Republican in every US presidential election since Bill Clinton was re-elected in 1996, but has recently emerged as a state increasingly up for grabs for the Democrats.

Further down the ballot paper, the south western state is asking citizens to decide whether it should enact an additional 3.5 per cent tax on those earning more than a quarter of a million dollars to raise money for schools. 

Asking for ‘those with the broadest shoulders to bear the heaviest burden’ is a common phrase when politicians argue the rich should pay more tax, and Arizona has followed a similar path.

What income tax rates do people in Arizona currently pay? 
Income  Current marginal tax rate 
$0 – $26,500 2.59%
$26,501 – $53,000  3.34% 
$53,001 – $159,000  4.17% 
$159,001+  4.5% 

Although unlike Illinois, Arizona is a state with a progressive tax system and the richest do pay a higher rate of tax already, with four brackets charging between 2.59 per cent and 4.5 per cent, with earners paying that top rate once they hit a $159,000 threshold. 

This top rate is currently the fifth-lowest in the US, having been cut from 4.54 per cent for this tax year.

The state took in $1.13billion from income taxes between April and June this year, and if the vote is passed then around 90,000 people in the state would see their tax rate rise to 8 per cent.

The measure is supported by senator Bernie Sanders, who twice tried to run for president, among others, with supporters raising $21million and opponents of the tax rise $5.7million, making the race about a sixth as expensive as Illinois’.

One of the latest polls carried out in September found two-third of the 420 people surveyed were in favour and 25 per cent opposed it.

Former presidential candidate senator Bernie Sanders is one of those backing a 3.5% hike in the rate of tax paid by those in Arizona earning more than $250,000 (£192,800)

Former presidential candidate senator Bernie Sanders is one of those backing a 3.5% hike in the rate of tax paid by those in Arizona earning more than $250,000 (£192,800)

Former presidential candidate senator Bernie Sanders is one of those backing a 3.5% hike in the rate of tax paid by those in Arizona earning more than $250,000 (£192,800)

Could Colorado put £28.50 in everyone’s pocket?

If Illinois and Arizona plan to raise taxes for at least some of their citizens, those in Colorado are set to vote on a measure which would cut taxes for everyone in the state. 

Like Illinois, Colorado is one of the nine states with a flat income tax, having had one since 1987.

It currently sits at 4.63 per cent, a fraction higher than Arizona’s top rate of tax, having been cut from 4.75 per cent in 2000.

The state in the American west, probably best known for the ski resort of Aspen in the Rocky Mountains, also has a particular quirk in that since 1992 any tax rises proposed by elected officials must be approved by voters.

How much will people in Colorado benefit from a proposed tax cut?
Taxable income  Tax owed at current rate of 4.63%  Tax owed at proposed rate of 4.5% Decrease
$10,000 $463 $455  $8
$25,000  $1,158  $1,138  $20 
$50,000  $2,315  $2,275  $40 
$125,000  $5,788  $5,688  $100 
$250,000  $11,575  $11,375  $200 
$1,000,000  $46,300  $45,500  $800 

As well as codifying the state’s flat tax, its ‘taxpayer bill of rights’, or TABOR, also caps how much state and local governments actually get to keep of the tax take. 

Anything above that is supposed to be reimbursed to citizens, although this ‘TABOR refund’ hasn’t been received by anyone in five years and 51 of the 64 counties in the state have voted to lift this cap.

But the ballot measure, one of four tax-related initiatives voters will make a choice on Tuesday, could still serve to put a sum back in everyone’s pocket. 

If it passes, the income tax rate will be cut across the board from 4.63 per cent to 4.55 per cent, which would take it to just above Arizona’s.

This would amount to a tax cut of $37, or £28.50, per taxpayer on average, according to the Colorado ‘blue book’, an impartial booklet sent out to voters every year to explain the various measures they are being asked to vote on.

Colorado has had a flat rate of income tax since 1987, and since 1992 has required politicians to get approval from voters if they ever wish to raise taxes

Colorado has had a flat rate of income tax since 1987, and since 1992 has required politicians to get approval from voters if they ever wish to raise taxes

Colorado has had a flat rate of income tax since 1987, and since 1992 has required politicians to get approval from voters if they ever wish to raise taxes

Supporters of the cut, who have spent $1.4million during the campaign, say it leaves more money in the pockets of taxpayers at a time when people are struggling to make ends meet, while critics say it will lead to a loss of revenue the state cannot afford and largely benefit those earning more than half a million dollars.

The blue book estimates it will cost the state $357million in revenue over the next two year.

The latest polling this month of 1,000 people, perhaps unsurprisingly, found the majority of voters, 51 per cent supported handing themselves money by voting in favour of the cut, while 35 per cent opposed it.

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Northern regions battle to host new National Infrastructure Bank

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northern regions battle to host new national infrastructure bank

The race is on across the north of England as leaders compete for their regions to become the seat of two economic hubs.

Rishi Sunak yesterday unveiled plans to set up a National Infrastructure Bank that will be based in the North.

The move comes on top of the Chancellor’s proposal to build a Treasury output in the region. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday unveiled plans to set up a National Infrastructure Bank that will be based in the north

Chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday unveiled plans to set up a National Infrastructure Bank that will be based in the north

Chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday unveiled plans to set up a National Infrastructure Bank that will be based in the north

Northern leaders are now pushing the case for their areas to host the two hubs, with the North East and North West thought to be pushing particularly hard.

The infrastructure bank will fund projects that promise to help the UK reach its ‘net zero’ carbon targets by 2050 and its ‘levelling up’ agenda.

The plans were outlined as part of Sunak’s wider spending review, which laid out how the Government aims to repair the UK economy in the wake of the Covid crisis.

The bank will be up and running by next spring but Sunak did not say where it would be based or how much money it will have.

Conservative MP Jake Berry, former Northern Powerhouse minister and head of the Northern Research Group of MPs, said: ‘There’s likely going to be a lot of stiff competition from regions and leaders.

‘What’s important is that it’s being placed in the North, which shows a commitment by this Government to the region and the levelling up agenda – and a move away from Government jobs and departments focused almost entirely on London.

‘It is also good news when you consider the recent announcement that 22,000, well-paid civil service jobs will be moving out of London and the South East.’

The Chancellor has also promised to build a Treasury outpost in the North.

Designs for the ‘economic campus’ are thought to have been submitted for buildings in areas including Darlington and around Teesside, but a final location has not been confirmed. The plans are some of the firmest commitments yet that the Government will shift power out of London.

Pressing his case: Middlesbrough mayor  Andy Preston

Pressing his case: Middlesbrough mayor  Andy Preston

Pressing his case: Middlesbrough mayor  Andy Preston

Ministers have also promised to put £4billion towards a fund, which could back local projects in all regions.

While the competition to attract the bank and Treasury outpost will be fierce among MPs, mayors and councils, the race could also create friction if ministers opt to place them in major cities.

Ben Houchen, Conservative mayor for Tees Valley, which is a major hub for heavy industries, said: ‘It’s important that the Government takes the bold decision to base the bank outside of a northern city.

‘Having officials from the bank based outside one of our metropolitan centres will give them a new mindset and allow them to understand the whole country so much better and the different challenges our towns and villages face – which would not happen if the bank was set up in a city like Newcastle, Leeds or Manchester.’

Andy Preston, the independent mayor of Middlesbrough, said: ‘Levelling up is decades overdue so it is fantastic to finally see it being tackled. 

‘Middlesbrough has suffered more than anywhere from political neglect and incompetence. We deserve to host this new bank. 

‘The Government should invest in Middlesbrough now and I guarantee them a huge and positive return.’

Under Sunak’s plans, an additional £27billion will be spent next year on infrastructure such as roads, cycle paths, railway lines and power stations, in many areas tying in with the green strategy Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last week.

The push is part of plans to plough £100billion into areas such as schools, hospitals and banks in total next year, and £600billion over the next five years. 

The Government, in rebounding from Covid, wants the UK to ‘build back better’ by improving motorways, laying better internet cables and building more wind farms.

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Taxpayer faces £40bn bill as cost of emergency loan schemes soar

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taxpayer faces 40bn bill as cost of emergency loan schemes soar

The taxpayer could be saddled with a £40billion bill as thousands of loans handed out under emergency government schemes turn sour.

The Treasury watchdog confirmed that losses under the Bounce Back loan scheme, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the larger CLBILS will be greater than feared.

In the worst-case scenario, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) thinks the taxpayer could end up covering £40billion that companies fail to repay.

Loans burden: Treasury watchdog the Office for Budget Responsibility  has confirmed that losses under emergency business loan schemes will be far greater than first feared

Loans burden: Treasury watchdog the Office for Budget Responsibility  has confirmed that losses under emergency business loan schemes will be far greater than first feared

Loans burden: Treasury watchdog the Office for Budget Responsibility  has confirmed that losses under emergency business loan schemes will be far greater than first feared

This is much worse than the £33.7billion of losses the watchdog predicted as possible in July. 

Even under the OBR’s more moderate base-case scenario, losses will hit £29.5billion – £12.6billion more than was predicted. 

It comes as banking industry bosses warn that billions of pounds of Government money is being lost to fraudsters.

Virgin Money chief executive David Duffy said yesterday that his bank had decided to only hand out Bounce Back loans to existing customers in order to reduce fraud.

He added: ‘There is an environment out there where we know there’s been a lot of fraud, and what we’ve been very happy to do is lend to those customers who we have a relationship with and know.’

The Bounce Back loans, aimed at businesses with turnover of up to £200,000, involve banks carrying out few checks but come with a 100 per cent government guarantee.

The scheme has so far lent £42.2billion to 1.4m small companies. 

The Treasury was warned multiple times about the risk of fraud, but pushed ahead because it worried businesses were going to the wall during lockdown and desperately needed the cash.

Part of the reason that losses under the three emergency loan schemes are now expected to be higher is because the British Business Bank (BBB), which is administering the schemes, expects more businesses to go bust. 

The government-backed BBB estimates that a staggering 5 per cent to 20 per cent of the large businesses who have borrowed under CLBILS could default on their debt.

Less surprisingly, it thinks 10 per cent to 25 per cent of smaller CBILS borrowers and 35 per cent to 60 per cent of Bounce Back borrowers will become unable to pay back their debt. 

The Government has agreed to cover 80 per cent of any losses which lenders suffer under the CBILS and CLBILS schemes and 100 per cent of losses under the Bounce Back scheme.

The other reason why losses are higher is because the schemes have been extended.

When Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed a second lockdown for England at the start of this month, Chancellor Rishi Sunak pushed back the deadline for applications under the three loan programmes from the end of November to the end of January, to help businesses stay afloat.

The OBR now thinks total borrowing under the three schemes could hit £87billion by the time they close, up from the £65.5bn which had been lent on November 15.

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Use British steel for £27bn infrastructure spree, industry chiefs urge

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use british steel for 27bn infrastructure spree industry chiefs urge

Industry chiefs have urged the use of British steel for infrastructure work.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak plans to spend an extra £27billion on projects next year, and billions more in coming years on roads, railways and power stations.

Huge volumes of raw materials will be needed and steel bosses want the Government to prioritise procuring metal from the UK, to create and sustain jobs and help repair the damage that Covid has wreaked.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak plans to spend an extra £27bn on projects next year, and billions more in coming years on roads, railways and power stations

Chancellor Rishi Sunak plans to spend an extra £27bn on projects next year, and billions more in coming years on roads, railways and power stations

Chancellor Rishi Sunak plans to spend an extra £27bn on projects next year, and billions more in coming years on roads, railways and power stations

UK Steel director general Gareth Stace said: ‘The huge levels of promised spending must now deliver the largest possible return fortaxpayers’ money by maximising the UK content of these major projects.’

It comes a week after Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled a green strategy to build eco-friendly homes, wind turbines and nuclear power plants.

Both plans could reinvigorate ‘foundation’ industries that produce the raw materials.

UK steel has struggled over the past few years and some firms, such as British Steel, have collapsed. 

The UK makes 7.3m tonnes of steel a year. Around 32,600 people work in the sector.

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This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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