Our View: Limit the damage from a bad tax
SouthtownStar editorial April 23, 2013 8:04PM
Updated: May 25, 2013 6:17AM
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has received much praise from the public and media for rescinding the highly unpopular sales tax increase that was imposed by the board in 2008 under her predecessor.
We joined that chorus, but we’ve also noted that Preckwinkle and county commissioners have somewhat offset the impact of removing that tax hike by approving a series of other tax increases and new taxes that individually don’t amount to much but that add up cumulatively.
These new and higher taxes here and there are bothersome, and some are objectionable and deserve to be repealed.
Take, for example, something officially called the Cook County Home Rule Use Tax for Non-Retail Transfers of Motor Vehicles. That’s a tax on the sale of vehicles between private citizens. Cook County has long had a sales tax on vehicles bought from dealers, which is sensible.
But some sharp-eyed member of Preckwinkle’s administration realized that there was no tax on person-to-person vehicle sales, and Preckwinkle saw another opportunity to push another nickel-and-dime tax.
The new tax, ranging from $175 to $225 depending on the age of the vehicle, was inserted into the county budget, approved in November 2011 and took effect in March 2012. Soon afterward, county residents started getting the bad news from the county — that old car they bought from a neighbor had a hefty tax due.
Commissioners began getting heat about the tax, which led some, including Commissioner Elizabeth Gorman (R-Orland Park) to propose repealing it. They’re right. It falls disproportionately on low-income residents who make up most of the market for private sales of used vehicles.
Preckwinkle wasn’t willing to lose the estimated $7 million the county will collect from the new tax, but she did agree to soften its impact — including reducing it for vehicles nine and 10 years old from $200 to $90 and for those 11 years or older from $175 to $90. The proposed changes await board approval.
We favor a repeal of the tax, but that’s likely not politically feasible. You might be able to slow down the Cook County Tax Machine, but you can’t stop it.