State of the State Preview
During the annual State of the State address next week lawmakers would like to hear more about the Governor’s office’s three year spending projections showing a $16.2 billion bill backlog by the end of Fiscal Year 17, but more than likely will be treated to a speech that focuses on positive news while avoiding some of Illinois’ most pressing issues.
Lawmakers aren’t optimistic that Governor Quinn will provide details on a clear path to balance spending with available revenues to avoid massive deficits. Instead, they expect Quinn to avoid talking about big issues and focus on putting a positive spin on the state of Illinois’ financial outlook.
The Governor will likely focus on 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 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 must deliver his annual budget message next month.
Start of Income Tax Filing Delayed
Be advised, the Internal Revenue Service and the Illinois Departm ent of Revenue have postponed the start of income tax filing to Jan. 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
Income tax filers in Illinois will get a little something extra when they file their tax returns this year: a breakdown of state spending from Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka.
The tax return inserts will show what state agencies spend each year, and include 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
A special program sponsored by the Illinois CPA Society makes it a little easier for our brave men and women in uniform to file their taxes. “CPA’s for the Public Interest” sponsors the Military Service Tax Preparation Project annually to provide free personal income tax return filing assistance to certain members of the U.S. 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.
To learn how to take advantage of this program, visit the Military Service Tax Preparation Project’s website.
Possible Cancellation of Commercial Driver’s Licenses
The Secretary of State’s Office is informing the public about the possible cancellation of some commercial driver’s licenses (CDL’s) that will take effect in late February.
Due to federal regulation CDL holders must visit a SOS CDL facility and declare which one of four categories of driving they do. Some additional requirements must be met for certain types of driving. Read more in this letter from the Secretary of State’s Office.