Mayor Lori Lightfoot is teaming up with a former mayor rival to give the families hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic a temporary $ 15 million hiatus.
Approximately 41,000 households in Illinois with family incomes low enough to qualify for the federal earned income tax credit will not withhold their unpaid traffic fines, unpaid parking tickets, and pending court judgments from their 2020 state tax refunds.
For the past decade, the State Auditor’s Office has been empowered to intercept these outstanding fines and pass them on to the municipalities, as have the wages of parents who do not provide child support.
But working families led by key workers have borne the brunt of the pandemic. They still struggle to pay rent, food, and health care after cutting their hours – if they are lucky enough to have a job at all.
Because of this, Lightfoot and her defeated mayor, Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza, decided to give these working families a break – by giving them their full state income tax refund.
It is not a permanent break or amnesty. It is a temporary reparation that only concerns the reimbursement of state income taxes for 2020. The fines have yet to be paid. And cities like Chicago still have the power to hand over outstanding fines to debt collection agencies.
Still, Mendoza estimated the temporary hiatus will bring $ 15 million back into the pockets of 41,000 needy households in Illinois.
To qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, a family of four must have a maximum annual income of $ 56,844. The limit for individual taxpayers is $ 15,820 per year.
“Families on the fringes are counting on their state income tax refunds to pay bills they postponed as COVID-19 has cost them jobs or increased their medical bills,” Mendoza was quoted in a press release.
Lightfoot praised its former mayoral rival for providing “welcome financial relief” to working families, though the break will temporarily deprive the city of millions of dollars in overdue fines and fees.
“These families have borne the heaviest burden of the COVID-19 crisis, with hourly cuts and job losses and thus health care, transportation and other important things we rely on to lead our daily lives,” the mayor was quoted as saying .
“As we strive to leave this terrible pandemic behind, we must do everything in our power to ensure our recovery is fair and leads everyone to the success we want to share.”
Lightfoot stood up for the promise to bring justice to an overly punitive ticketing, towing and boating policy that has unfairly targeted minorities and bankrupted thousands.
She promised to stop boating for immovable violations, use red light cameras at sunset for “revenue – not security” and abolish city stickers, which are the source of many tickets.
The mayor has not yet kept any of these promises. In fact, motorists caught with speed cameras traveling from 6 mph to 10 mph over the speed limit have started receiving a $ 35 ticket in the mail.
Mendoza finished fifth in the first round of the 2019 Mayor Competition with just over 9% of the vote. She was one of several mayoral challengers created through her ties to the accused Ald. Edward Burke (14th) and former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago).
Lightfoot owes her landslide choice to the Burke scandal.