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Fees up in 2012 Cook County budget

November 23, 2011
The use tax on cars that will be registered in Cook County increases to 1 percent in the 2012 budget that county commissioners approved Nov. 18, and purchasers in private transactions will for the first time be subject to the tax. The fiscal year begins Dec. 1.
The tax, known as the “Cook County Home Rule Use Tax for Non-retail Transfers of Motor Vehicles,” applies even to vehicles transferred as a gift from a family member or bequeathed by an estate, unless the beneficiary is a surviving spouse.
The previous use tax rate, 0.75 percent, applied only to retail sales of vehicles.
“This is a very difficult economic climate and this required shared sacrifice across the board,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “This budget is a reflection of how we are changing the financial landscape as well as the culture of Cook County government.”
Preckwinkle sought a variety of fee increases to help offset a quarter-point rollback of the county’s sales tax rate on general merchandise, from 8.5 percent to 8.25 percent. The tax on items that must be titled—cars, motorcycles and boats—remains 7.25 percent. In addition, the supplemental 1 percent Cook County use tax is reported on Form ST-1. And cars titled to a Chicago address face an additional 1.25 percent Home Rule tax.
Preckwinkle gained office last year largely on her pledge to roll back the 1 percent sales tax hike on general merchandise that her predecessor, Todd Stroger, passed in 2008. The rate dropped a half-point last year, and the final quarter point will be retired Jan. 1, 2013.
Overall, the new county budget is reduced $112.5 million, or 3.7 percent, to $2.94 billion for fiscal 2012.
Preckwinkle projected a looming general fund shortfall between expected revenues and expenses at $315 million. To close the gap, county officials tried to avoid relying on higher property taxes and one-time fixes.