Illinois is frequently in the headlines for using bundles of tax breaks, grants, and loans to lure companies from other states aka “interstate job piracy.” Since the 2010s, companies like Amazon and Rivian (the electric vehicle company Amazon contracted in 2019 to produce 100,000 delivery vans) have found a home in Illinois after securing copious subsidies. Local governments rely on tax increment financing (TIF) districts to fund development: Chicago, for example, has more TIF districts than the following ten most populated cities combined.

Illinois’ incentive programs are administered by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). Most involve tax breaks. The Economic Development of a Growing Economy (EDGE) Tax Credit is the costliest, up 8.9% from its cost in 2020 at $147 million. Illinois’ newest program is the Data Center Investment program, which is up 116% from $47 million in 2021, making it the state’s second-largest and fastest-growing program. The state also has tax subsidies for film productions.

Illinois is a pioneer in online disclosure, earning top rank in our 2007, 2010, and 2022 transparency reports. The DCEO maintains a database of incentives containing annual progress reports for each active project. While these reports supply a decent amount of information, each PDF covering only one project in one year makes analyzing multiple programs and years cumbersome.

The State Comptroller’s office publishes a detailed annual tax expenditure report with a section on economic development tax incentives. Costs are broken down by program and type of tax (property, sales, income, etc.). By contrast, the Annual Comprehensive Financial Reports do not contain much information on tax abatements as required by Statement No. 77. A small percentage of Illinois’ multitudinous local jurisdictions report tax abatements, resulting in substantial albeit incomplete data.

Even though Illinois has created what is called the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, it inexplicably does not evaluate incentive programs. The closest thing it did was a 2014 publication that provides an overview of the programs, but which can no longer be found online.

Our database tracking corporate misconduct, Violation Tracker, scours 450 federal, state and local agencies in compiling resolved civil and criminal cases against companies. See the list of state agencies from which we collect information in Illinois.

Last Updated October 2023.

For more information, contact Nya Anthony at [email protected].