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Taxes going up, but Cook vehicles partly spared

November 16, 2010

Sales tax rates increase April 1 in the six Illinois counties in and nearest to Chicago, and again Nov. 1 in Cook County. But only the April 1 increase impacts vehicle sales.

State lawmakers awarded an additional quarter-cent per dollar tax in Cook County and twice that in the five collar counties to fund Chicago’s ailing mass transit system. Taxes for the Regional Transportation Authority affect the rates charged for vehicles and other items that must be titled and registered.

The new rates, effective April 1, appear below.

But the 1 percent sales tax increase approved Feb. 29 to avert a Cook County government shutdown applies only to purchases of general merchandise, not vehicles.

Dealers in Cook County also were spared from a new $100 flat tax that county commissioners discussed assessing on new and used vehicles retailed in the county, a move that would have placed Cook dealers at a competitive disadvantage with dealers in the rest of Illinois.

Cook County faced a projected $234 million budget deficit on the fiscal year that began Jan. 1. Tax increases on other items still are being considered.

The Illinois Revenue Department recognizes distinct tax rates for general merchandise; for vehicles; and for qualifying food, drugs and medical appliances. In many of the state’s 102 counties, the rate for general merchandise and vehicles is the same. But the rates are different in some.

The RTA tax rate is recorded on Line 4 of the revenue department’s Form ST-556. In Cook County, the new rate is 1.0 percent. In DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties, the new rate is 0.75 percent. Forms printed after April 1 will reflect the new rates. In the meantime, dealers will have to amend their preprinted forms.

The Cook County Board more than doubled the county general sales tax—to 1.75 percent from 0.75 percent—on most things purchased in the county. Effective Nov. 1, it raises the tax on general merchandise to 9.25 percent in suburban Cook and to 10.25 percent in Chicago—or 41 cents in taxes on a $4 cup of specialty coffee.

That gives Chicago the dubious honor of having the highest general sales tax of any major U.S. city.

Tax                             ​;       Chicago        Cook      Lake         DuPage    McHenry      &nb​sp;Kane              W​ill

Vehicle rate                      7.00    &nbs​p;           7.00      &nb​sp; 6.50           6.75    &nbs​p;      6.50           &nb​sp;    6.50               &nb​sp;6.50
Home Rule                       1.25
RTA                       ​;           0.75         ​;       0.75        0.25    &​nbsp;      0.25           0.25 &nb​sp;              0.25                0.25
County Water 
Commission Tax                                                                       0.25                                                                         
Current total                     9.00    &nbs​p;           7.75      &nb​sp; 6.75           7.25    &nbs​p;       6.75          &nb​sp;     6.75              &nb​sp; 6.75


add’l RTA tax                   0.25                0.25       &nbs​p;0.50           0.50      ​;     0.50            &nbs​p;   0.50                0.50


Vehicle rate,
effective April 1               9.25      &nb​sp;         8.00        7.25           7.75           7.25             &n​bsp;  7.25                7​.25


Gen. merchandise
rateeff. April 1                9.25                8.00    ​;    7.00            7.2​5          7.00      &nbs​p;         7.00          &nbs​p;     7.00