Newly Proposed Tax has Lake View Business Owners Fuming
Cook County wants to add even more taxes to big-ticket items purchased outside of the county, and local business owners are anything but pleased.
Purchasing goods outside of Cook County may soon cost residents and local businesses more, according to a new tax proposed in County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s budget, and Lake View business owners are anything but happy.
The budget proposes a 1.25 percent tax on anything purchased outside of Cook County worth more than $3,500. Preckwinkle’s proposal initially had the new tax applying anything more than $2,500, but she bumped up the threshold Monday, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Administrators estimate it will raise roughly $14 million a year in additional tax revenue.
“It’s already incredibly difficult to run a business in Chicago… This is just a slap in the face to small businesses."
However, business owners in Lake View aren’t pleased with the proposal, saying it feels like government is working against them. Maria Mavraganes, owner of Stella’s Diner at 3042 North Broadway, says she’s not even aware of a comparable supplier in the county’s boundaries.
“So if I want to buy a $5,000 piece of equipment, I’m going to be taxed even more?” asked Mavraganes. “It’s just another way to nickel and dime us. They’re killing the little man… I think it’s unfair, like I’m being penalized for doing business here. As far as restaurants go, I’d be curious as to how many suppliers are even in Cook County.”
And Mavraganes’ neighbor Manuel Tenorio agrees. As the owner of popular Lake View bike store Johnny Sprokets at 3001 North Broadway, he says Preckwinkle’s budget doesn’t make sense.
“That’s just a bad idea,” Tenorio said. “It’s already incredibly difficult to run a business in Chicago… This is just a slap in the face to small businesses. To tax merchandise even more seems like a terrible idea.”
The City of Chicago already charges a similar one percent “use tax” on items worth more than $2,500, the Chicago Tribune notes, but Preckwinkle defended her plan. She says the new tax will encourage local business owners to keep their money in the local economy.
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"Our policy here is straightforward," she told the Tribune. "If you're a business and you choose not to support local businesses in your area, that is support our local economy, you will have to pay a little more."
The tax wouldn’t apply to titled property like cars and boats because there’s already a countywide tax on those items, reports the Tribune. Preckwinkle is a first-term Democrat, and her 2013 budget calls for spending $100 million less than when she took office in 2010.