Pension Reform

The Gold Standard in Taxpayer Abuse: Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund


Click here to view PDF
Chicago – Taxpayer Education Foundation (TEF) today released its annual analysis of the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF).
“IMRF is touted as the model pension plan. Of course, that judgment is from the same government bureaucrats who continue to raise our taxes by large margins to cover their own 24k gold plated pensions,” stated TEF founder and president, Jim Tobin.
“Illinois property taxes were $933,937,321 in 2016 alone to cover these municipal pensions. That means that for every dollar that the government employees put into their own retirement, taxpayers were forced to pay, through their property taxes, $2.46. And that doesn’t include the Social Security payments we are forced to make for nearly all of the government employees in the IMRF.”

“For many IMRF employees, taxpayers are forced to pay 15% of the employees’ wages for both IMRF and Social Security pensions. Those of us in the private sector fund our Social Security pensions entirely with private money.”
“Illinois is bankrupt and government employee pensions are to blame. The promises made to the government employees are not reasonable now, nor were they when they were made.”
“Bloated pensions were a way to attract people to government jobs in lieu of comparable wages, but now government employees enjoy larger paychecks than their private sector counterparts.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that all level of government employees made more than private sector employees. The overall average salary of $44,600 per year for private sector employment pales in comparison to government employee salaries, which averaged $51,840. Government employee total compensation far exceeds private sector rates. Benefit pensions are all but eliminated in private, non-union roles.
“It is unconscionable that taxpayers are forced to fund an annual pension of $323,616, but that’s exactly how much Edward A. Anderson gets from his taxpayer funded IMRF pension. Assuming he lives a normal lifetime, that pension will accumulate to $6,515,399. Mr. Anderson only paid about 5% of that payout into his own pension, less than one year’s worth of pension payments.”
“Elizabeth R. Kutska proves that retiring early sure has its benefits – if you’re a government employee. She retired at the age of 55 and her current annual pension is $261,677, and her estimated lifetime payout is $5,841,358. She only paid $160,648 into the IMRF, $100,000 less than this year’s pension payout.”
TEF advocates state government pension reforms that would replace the current defined benefit system with a more sustainable defined contribution system. Additional reforms should include increasing government employee contributions to their own pensions as well as discontinuing the 3% compounded cost of living adjustment.

IMRF Statistics

  • Number of pensions that exceed $300,000: 1
  • Number of pensions that exceed $200,000: 11
  • Number of pensions that exceed $100,000: 664
  • Number of pensions that exceed $50,000: 7,395
  • Retirees’ percentage of personal contributions to the fund compared to estimated lifetime payout: 6.9%
  • Average estimated lifetime payout for retirees with more than 20 years of employment: $862,962
  • Average age of retirement: 6
  • Average annual pension: $15,616 not including Social Security benefits that nearly all former municipal employees receive.
  • Total number of pensioners: 129,686
  • Average years of employment: 17.8
  • Employee deposits to the fund: $380,385,015
  • Taxpayer deposits to the fund: $933,937,321
  • Net investment income: $3,979,199,450
  • Net pension liability: $4.6 billion
  • Funded ratio: 88.9%

Click here to see the top 200 IMRF pensions
Click here to see IMRF annual reports

Jim Tobin and TEF featured by WBBM News Radio

Taxpayer Education Foundation research presented by Jim Tobin was reported on by WBBM News Radio. Check out the link below for their coverage of the Illinois pension crisis. “In 2016, homeowners paid $933 million in property taxes for the pensions of local government and school district employees in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.”
Click here to view their coverage of the data.

Rahm’s Amusement Tax- Not Funny to Taxpayers who Fund Lavish Muni Pensions

TUA exposing government pensions was featured on WTTW. Click here to view the news article. 
View As PDF
Chicago – Taxpayers United of America (TUA) has released its most recent government pension study exposing individual pensions for Chicago Municipal Government retirees.
“All of the top 200 Chicago pensions for the ‘poor civil servants’ are at least $100,000 a year,” stated TUA’s president, Jim Tobin. “The average retirement age for this group of pensioners is only 58. Social Security requires taxpayers to reach age 67 before they are eligible for full retirement benefits…which max out at about $32,000 a year”, added Tobin.
The Municipal Employees’ Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago, (MEABF) is predicted to be insolvent in 8 years, according to its most recent audit. The auditing firm estimated that taxpayers would have to deposit $1,005,456,621 to make the fund solvent. MEABF does not include Chicago teachers, police, or firefighters who each have their own pension system, all separate from the 6 statewide pension funds.
To pay for these lavish city pensions, Mayor  Rahm Emmanuel is increasing and creating new “entertainment taxes.” Included in his proposed 2018 budget, are a measure to increase the current tax on some music and sports venues and a new entertainment tax on internet services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc.  The tax-per-seat will go up by 80 percent to 9 percent from 5 percent for tickets to concerts, plays or comedy shows for venues larger than 1500 seats. Victims of this tax increase include Wrigley Field, the home of the Chicago Cubs, and the United Center, home of the Chicago Blackhawks and the Chicago Bulls.  There also is a new entertainment tax on major streaming services like Netflix. The tax on streaming services will extract $12 million from these companies, with the cost likely passed on to consumers.
“The state of Illinois is bankrupt. They can’t pay their bills because the outrageously rich government pensions rob the taxpayers blind. And there won’t be a bailout by the state for the city of Chicago – there just isn’t enough taxpayer money. Taxpayers would have to pony up about $1,005,456,621 to make the MEABF solvent!”
“At every level of government in Illinois, bureaucrats are trying desperately to prop up the failed pension funds with more tax increases. You can be sure that the historic increase in the state’s income tax won’t be the last one.”
“Here are a couple of examples of the ‘poor public servant’, taxpayer funded pensions:
Dennis J. Gannon collects an annual pension of $194,638. Assuming he leads a normal life of 85 years, that annual pension will accumulate to $7,791,985. Retiring at only 50, he will collect taxpayer funded pension payments for 35 years…far more years than he actually was employed by the city!
Then there’s Stephen M. Murray. Collecting an annual pension of $146,896 will provide him with an outrageous lifetime payout of $5,107,745. Keep in mind that he retired at only 53 years of age!”
Click below to view the top 200 pensions for Chicago Municipal Retirees:

“These government pensions are legalized theft. Overpromising benefits to government employees is pervasive throughout Illinois. The government pensions are singularly responsible for Illinois’ financial crisis.”
“We support Gov. Bruce Rauner’s plan to repeal the historic state income tax increase passed last year and resolve the pension problem through a change to pension protection clause in the Illinois Constitution,” concluded Tobin.

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DISCLAIMER

Taxpayers United Of America: (TUA). is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(4) taxpayer advocacy group. Founded June 27, 1976 in Chicago, Illinois by activist and economist Jim Tobin, TUA works on behalf of taxpayers to reduce local, state, and federal taxes. In the past forty years, TUA has saved taxpayers more than $200 billion n taxes and has become one of the largest taxpayer organizations in America. Check All posts. s.

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