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Mayoral Hopeful Pushes Old Idea: Abolishing City’s ‘Head Tax’

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A Chicago industrial worker. (CBS)

A Chicago industrial worker. (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Rahm Emanuel and some of the other potential mayoral candidates are taking aim at Chicago’s unpopular “head tax.”

Employers pay a $4-a-month tax on every employee, which means about $20 million for the city budget. That’s really a drop in the bucket, but to employers it’s a symbolic nuisance.

“When somebody says ‘How can you stay in the city of Chicago, what’s one of the problems with it?’ and I say, ‘Well, there’s the head tax,” Charlie Cretors, owner of the longtime Chicago firm that builds popcorn machines, told CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine.

Cretors, who employs 70, says he has no plans to leave the city, but thinks the head tax is an annoying “ding” on business owners like himself.

On Monday afternoon, Emanuel said he would abolish the tax over four years if he became mayor. He said would make up for the lost revenue by reducing the number of city inspectors working across nine departments.

“There’s a proper role for inspections, a proper role for oversight, we can just do it smarter and more effective,” says Emanuel, who emphasized job creation during his appearance at another family-owned manufacturing plant.

The idea of cutting off the head tax isn’t new. In fact, mayoral candidate Gery Chico proposed eliminating it before Mayor Daley announced he wasn’t running for re-election.

Another announced candidate, Miguel del Valle, said the issue is the ability to deliver on promises of job creation. He said eliminating the head tax might help. As for Congressman Danny Davis, he says he’s been helping create jobs for years.

Emanuel is clearly turning up the heat on his still unannounced candidacy. He is expected to formally announce by week’s end. So is state Sen. James Meeks and former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun.

With Chico, del Valle and Davis, that would make a field of six candidates for the Feb. 22 election, barring surprises.

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