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Voice of the People, Jan. 09

Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Chicago Tribune

County taxes

With the start of the new year, businesses, consumers and community leaders throughout Cook County are toasting the total repeal of the 1 percent sales tax increase adopted by the County Board in 2008. Beginning Jan. 1, the remaining 0.25 percent of the sales tax increase has been eliminated, and the rate in Chicago will revert back to 9.25 percent, saving consumers $87 million this year. The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce commends Board President Toni Preckwinkle for fulfilling a campaign promise to roll back the tax increase, providing taxpayers a New Year's Day gift by accelerating the scheduled repeal.

With a concurrent economic downturn back in 2008, it's difficult to accurately gauge the damage caused by the ill-conceived sales tax increase. But it's easy to gauge the poor reputation Cook County gained by having among the highest sales taxes in the nation. Businesses paid the price as consumers traveled across county lines to avoid high taxes and purchase goods elsewhere. Compared with the collar counties, sales in Cook County declined more quickly at the beginning of the recession and increased more slowly as the economy improved.

Repeal of the tax increase will level the playing field and allow Cook County businesses to compete fairly once again.

Preckwinkle and the County Board adopted a 2013 budget that includes common-sense cuts, consolidations, partnerships and efficiencies, proving once and for all that the infamous sales tax increase was unnecessary and counterproductive. Continuing that trend, let's resolve in 2013 to seriously address the fiscal challenges facing all levels of government, enhancing our economic competitiveness and finally making Chicagoland the most business-friendly region in America.

ó Jerry Roper, president and CEO, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Chicago



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