A new lawsuit claims the state has been handing out tax credits to companies which shouldn’t qualify. A group called the Liberty Justice Center is suing the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity over awarding EDGE tax credits to businesses based on retaining existing employees. Jacob Huebert, the center’s senior attorney, says the original EDGE law allowed EDGE credits to be based on income tax withheld only from employees hired after entering into a tax credit agreement.
“What the DCEO has done here is illegal,” Huebert said. “A government agency cannot expand its power by enacting rules that contradict a statute passed by the General Assembly.”
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Huebert claims more than half of the $950 million awarded in EDGE tax credits appears to have gone to businesses that shouldn’t have qualified. The lawsuit seeks to end that practice, and the center has asked for a preliminary injunction to prevent DCEO from awarding any more EDGE credits to those companies.
The rules listed on the DCEO website mention companies may be eligible for credits based both on hiring new employees or retaining current workers.
Huebert says the practice dates to the beginning of the EDGE program, which was implemented under Gov. George Ryan, and has continued through two Democratic administrations. He denies any political motivations behind the lawsuit, despite the fact the center was founded by the Illinois Policy Institute, a right wing think tank.
“The Liberty Justice Center does not describe itself as a conservative organization,” Huebert said.