SPRINGFIELD — Democrats in the Illinois Senate pushed through a controversial measure Wednesday requiring that all publicly traded companies in the state disclose how much they pay in Illinois income taxes.
The measure (SB 282) now goes to the House, where changes are possible, according to Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, who was one of 30 Democrats to vote for it. All 24 Senate Republicans voted against the bill.
"Frequently we vote on bills that are not perfect bills, but this is part of a process we go through that sometimes brings people to the negotiating table by moving a bill forward in that process," Frerichs said. "My understanding is that it will become changed before it is ever a finished product."
Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, the sponsor of the legislation, also said he believed House sponsors would be open to "any changes."
Cullerton said the corporate tax disclosure law was needed so that lawmakers could evaluate the effectiveness of Illinois' corporate tax policies.
"I think in evaluating whether or not a tax credit is working, or figuring out whether or not our tax structure passed over the years is working, or whether the corporate tax rate is too high and we can lower it on a broader base ... I'm open to that, this is just a starting point," he said. "The motivation here is not a 'gotcha' to the business community. It's actually something to help us have a better tax structure."
But the Taxpayers Federation of Illinois said the evaluation could be made "through less invasive means."
And the Illinois Chamber of Commerce said that forcing corporations to open their books "is another prime example of how the state of Illinois shows its bias against Illinois job creators."
Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, said the tax information could be obtained "in the aggregate" from the Department of Revenue.
But Cullerton argued that the state has passed several bills in recent years aimed at providing tax benefits to corporations. "I don't think that getting this information in the aggregate would be helpful," he said.
Righter said the legislation "would violate the spirit of federal law, laying private information from taxpayers out on websites."
And Sen. Chris Lauzen, R-Aurora, called the legislation "anti-business" and "punitive."
He said it "undermines the traditional notion of taxpayer privacy and business confidentiality," and said "there are other states that are alternatives for employers to go to."