Lawmakers will gather in Springfield January 29 for Governor Pat Quinn’s annual State-of-the-State message, hoping to hear more about three-year spending projections that his own budget office says will create a $16.2 billion bill backlog by the end of Fiscal Year 2017.
But I am not really optimistic that Governor Quinn will provide any details or a clear path to balance spending with available revenues and avoid massive deficits. More likely, the Governor will accentuate any available positive news about the state and eliminate any negative assessments. That could be a tall order in a state that has been identified as having the worst prospects in the nation for job growth in 2014.
It’s also unlikely that Governor Quinn will mention that he has presided over more credit downgrades than any Governor in the state’s history; that the state’s unemployment rate remains above both the national and regional averages; and that Illinois ranks 42nd in the nation in job growth over the past decade.
Details about the state’s upcoming budget are likely to be put off until the Governor delivers his annual budget message next month.
Start of income tax filing delayed
The Internal Revenue Service and the Illinois Department of Revenue have postponed the start of income tax filing to January 31 – a 10-day delay for federal returns and two weeks for the state.
The delays are the result of the October 2013 federal government shutdown. State Revenue Department spokeswoman Sue Hofer said the agency usually begins processing returns in mid-January, but taxpayers cannot complete state forms without information from federal returns.
The tax filing deadline is still April 15. Federal and state tax agency spokespeople have said refunds should not be affected.
Comptroller breaks down spending
State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka says her office will provide taxpayers with a breakdown of state spending in income tax returns received in 2014.
The tax return inserts will show what state agencies spend each year, and an analysis of the state’s unpaid bills over time.
That information will also be made available on the Comptroller’s Web site.
Free tax assistance for military personnel
The Illinois CPA Society’s “CPAs for the Public Interest” offers a program called the Military Service Tax Preparation Project that provides free personal income tax return filing assistance to certain members of the United States Armed Forces.
The project matches military personnel and/or their family members with CPA volunteers who will provide free personal federal and state income tax filing assistance.
In order to qualify, individuals and their families must have recently returned or still be serving on active duty in a combat zone or qualified hazardous duty area and must be an Illinois resident.
More information about this program is available on the Military Service Tax Preparation Project’s Web site.