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Sales Tax Bill Denounced As Ruinous To Government, Transit

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Illinois Senate Chambers

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WBBM) – A bill that has passed the Illinois Senate is being called a boon to taxpayers by some, but others denounced it as a potentially ruinous measure for local government and transit agencies.

As WBBM Newsradio 780′s Bob Roberts reports, the bill, as written, effectively would let major Illinois businesses choose the county in which they wish to charge sales tax, regardless of where a sale is made.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Bob Roberts reports


That could be a boon for consumers, but it worries Regional Transportation Authority Chairman John Gates, who says businesses will naturally seek out the Illinois counties with the lowest sales tax rate.

And those counties are not in the Chicago area.

As written, opponents say, the bill would strip the Illinois Department of Revenue of the ability to investigate accusations of cheating.

Gates says if the measure were to become law it would be “devastating” to transit agencies, potentially costing the RTA upward of $500 million a year and local communities in the six-county area nearly $250 million, so he is having a competing bill written to close the loophole.

It took a bit of work just to find a tax attorney who was willing to do it.

“We could not find a law firm in the state of Illinois to help us write this bill simply because all of the expert (tax) law firms in the state were already tied up in this type of evasive activity for local clients,” he said. “We had to go to the state of Virginia to find a law firm that was not conflicted.”

The RTA’s legislative liaison and deputy executive director, Jordan Matyas, said that he has a prospective sponsor lined up. But he said it would not be his father-in-law, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago).

The RTA board Thursday unanimously passed a resolution denouncing the bill and urging a boycott of businesses that engage in such activity.

Newsradio 780 has attempted to contact the sales tax bill’s sponsor, State Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights).

The bill has bipartisan co-sponsors. It passed the Senate 33-20 on April 15 and has been sent to the House Rules Committee.

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