Economy
9:38 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Business Groups Pan Madigan's EDGE Tax Credit Changes

Illinois Chamber of Commerce CEO Doug Whitley and the Illinois Manufacturers' Association's Mark Denzler, from left, testified against House Speaker Michael Madigan's plan to change EDGE tax credits - changes Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Adam Pollet backs.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  One of Illinois' main tools for attracting and retaining companies in the state would get a revamp under a plan unveiled yesterday by the Speaker of the Illinois House. It drew immediate criticism from business groups.

More than 700 companies have what are known as EDGE tax credits, given in exchange for keeping, or creating new, jobs.

House Speaker Michael Madigan says his aim in changing it is to "insure that he program is being run in a way that benefits both the recipients and the taxpayers of Illinois."

Companies usually get a credit for corporate income taxes. But Illinois has allowed a handful of mega corporations that don't actually have any tax liability to instead keep their employees' tax withholdings.

Madigan wants to set new standards to qualify for that "Special EDGE" credit. A company would have to create new jobs in a place where poverty or unemployment are high. And they would have to disclose financial information that's otherwise secret.

"This labyrinth of exceptions and limitations, that I would suggest to you almost no one is going to comply," says Illinois Chamber of Commerce CEO Doug Whitley. He says it turns EDGE from a tool for economic growth into something that'll block it.

The measure successfully got out of a House committee, with mixed support from Republicans.

Gov. Pat Quinn's administration backs it; Quinn's director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Adam Pollet, testified that it preserves EDGE as a competitive tool, and strengthens it be making it available to small businesses.

Other changes to Illinois' business tax code are expected.