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Proposed Cook County budget would raise sales, lease taxes

November 23, 2010
Taxes to lease a $20,000 car would increase $800 in a 2004 budget under debate among Cook County commissioners. The proposed budget would raise the sales tax one-quarter percent and add a 4 percent tax on leased equipment like cars and computers. If adopted, the total sales tax on merchandise would rise to 9 percent in Chicago and at least 8 percent in suburban Cook County, where overall sales tax charges vary among municipalities. Chicago already levies a 6 percent lease tax, so the total lease tax in the city would grow to 10 percent on monthly payments. Casey Wickstrom, chairman of the CATA, urged dealers in Cook County to contact their board commissioners to defeat the budget proposal. The 17 commissioners and the proposed budget can be seen at the county board Web site, "Cook County Board President John Stroger's proposed tax increase on leases would all but end automobile leasing in Cook County," Wickstrom said. "Automobile leases make the newer, safer, more reliable transportation accessible to the average consumer by tying up less income in the automobile." Stroger said more than 70 percent of the nation's counties are experiencing budget shortfalls. Commissioner Mike Quigley, a Chicago Democrat, said that instead of a 4.3 percent increase, the county could slash its budget by restructuring. Hard decisions rather than taxes are what's called for, he said. "The taxes represent a body blow to an economy that needs stimulus," Quigley added. Jerry Roper, president of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce said: "At a time when we are witnessing job cuts in businesses and other units of government, we are not seeing similar cuts in the Cook County budget. We consider the sales tax a massive advertising campaign for Indiana retailers." Stroger offered no guarantee the budget will pass as is, and Commissioner Forrest Claypool said he'll have the nine votes needed to block the increases. Public comment can be expressed at hearings in Markham on Nov. 10, in Skokie on Nov. 12, and in Chicago on Nov. 14. A board vote on the budget is expected Dec. 9.