(The Center Square) – Although most fireworks are illegal in this state, it is not stopping Illinoisans from crossing over state lines to load up for the July 4th holiday weekend.
Illinois remains one of the four most restrictive states in the country on residents’ ability to buy and ignite fireworks this Independence Day. Along with Ohio and Vermont, Illinois bans the use or purchase of fireworks other than sparklers and small noisemakers. Massachusetts bans fireworks completely.
Illinois’ Pyrotechnic Use Act makes the possession, transportation or use of illegal fireworks a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 or a year in prison.
That doesn’t stop Illinoisans from crossing the border in Beloit, Wisconsin; West Alton, Missouri; Paducah, Kentucky; or Highland, Indiana to buy fireworks.
George Kanavos manages Big Daddy K’s Fireworks in Highland, Indiana near the state line. He said he gets a lot of business from Illinois.
“Of course, I got to assume probably 75% of our business is coming over the border,” Kanavos said.
According to the Tax Foundation, Indiana brings in $2.5 million each year in tax revenue by imposing a 5% tax on pyrotechnics in addition to the state’s 7% sales tax.
There have been efforts to loosen Illinois’ fireworks ban. State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, has put together proposals that allocated potential sales tax revenue to local conservation districts and fire and emergency medical services.
Rose’s staff calculated Illinois fireworks consumers provided between $10 to $15 million in sales tax revenue to neighboring states. The legislation did not advance to a committee.
“The Illinois fireworks ban is as much a symbolic issue as it is anything else, but it is also a real issue of sending tax dollars to other states,” said Adam Schuster, senior budget and tax research director with Illinois Policy. “The symbolism of preventing people from having independence to celebrate their Independence Day the way they want is a strong indictment of how Illinois politicians view the people of the state generally.”