This article examines the popular notion that elected officials, particularly at the local level, can not be trusted with broad powers of taxation; that they are likely to use and perhaps abuse all of the powers of taxation they possess. The study looks at the use of tax powers, made over a 30 year period, by Illinois’ home rule municipalities which have one of the broadest grants of tax powers given by any state to its local government officials. This study found only seven reasonably verifiable examples of unwarranted uses of home rule powers, only three of which represent unequivocal instances in which the voters, the courts, or the legislature voided uses of home rule powers. Available evidence produced neither a rational nor an empirical basis to support a reasonable probability that, given the opportunity, local elected officials will enact new or higher taxes without regard for the wishes of the voters. Indeed, the Illinois experience suggests that, with adequate safeguards, local offi - cials can be trusted with broad based local tax powers.


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