Another stupid Illinois tax

In an effort to mine every source of revenue, the desperate and financially collapsing state of is comes up with some real doozies. This one, to take effect on Jan. 1, imposes a big jump in the fee imposed on non-profit organizations for registering with the state. 
For the American Civil Liberties Union, the cost jumps to $3,000 from $1,050. As a result, the ACLU is suing the state in federal court for its "unlawful tax on free speech." The ACLU, in its press release, points out:

The increase also places Illinois far out of line with the fee charged by other states to regulate lobbyists and non-profit organizations. Every other state in the union charges less than $365 for non-profit organizations and their lobbyists to register, and forty-two (42) states charge $150 or less. No state has a "free speech tax rate" as high as the one to be assessed by Illinois starting the first of the year. And, the federal government does not charge any fee for registering as a lobbyist on congressional issues.

The ACLU also points out that religious organizations and media are exempt from the tax, protesting the unequal treatment.

The ACLU, as often as I think its wrong, nails this one. It is tax imposed on protected First Amendment activities and one that is unequally applied. However, I again regard with wonder the creativity of Illinois lawmakers and bureaucrats to spot any tiny source of revenue flying under the radar. Again, it's a wrong-headed solution to a difficult problem--the disastrous financial condition that politicians have created for the state.


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  • It isn't a tax on speech, it is a franchise fee for the purpose of being a nonprofit corporation. If they can't afford it, let them become an unincorporated association and see how that goes.

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