Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  

Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine


  Office phone numbers:  

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.


Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

  The Cook County Forest Preserve District maintains over 70 miles of bicycle trails.

Illinois Supreme Court leaves sales tax loophole open
Court rules new regulations will be needed to curb tax avoidance

Friday, November 22, 2013
Chicago Tribune
by Ameet Sachdev

The Illinois Supreme Court delivered a mixed ruling Thursday on the complicated issue of how local governments collect sales taxes.

The court found that a petroleum marketer once based in Cook County correctly interpreted state regulations when it opened a sales office in Putnam County to avoid paying higher sales tax in Cook County.

But the court, in an unanimous opinion, also ruled that the regulation erroneously constricts the scope of the taxation -- meaning that the Illinois Department of Revenue will have to come up with new regulations that could potentially close a loophole exploited by dozens of businesses. 

The decision was highly anticipated by both business and government.

Saddled with some of the nation's highest sales taxes, some Chicago area businesses have found a creative way to avoid them: They route purchases through offices in downstate counties with lower sales taxes. These companies, ranging from catalog houses and oil companies to computer purveyors, shift the official point of purchase from the Chicago area to such locations as Kankakee and Channahon in order to escape the high sales-tax rates in Cook and some collar counties.

The giant loophole exists because Illinois is one of the few states in which sales tax is applied where a purchase is accepted rather than where the product is delivered.

One of the biggest critics of the tax-avoidance tactics is the Regional Transportation Authority, which oversees the CTA, Metra and Pace. The RTA, which relies on sales tax for half of its budget, argues that companies that maintain their businesses in or around Cook County shouldn’t be able to opt out of paying taxes by establishing a token presence elsewhere. The point of taxes, after all, is to get people to pay for the services where they receive them. That includes, for example, the trains and buses their employees ride to work.

Just how much money is at stake is hard to track. In one specific case, the RTA alleges that United and American airlines, which set up offices in DeKalb County to buy jet fuel, deprived public transit agencies of nearly $300 million during the past seven years.

Hartney Fuel Oil Co. went to court to prove that their tax scheme was legal. Hartney is a fuel marketing company that purchases fuel oil from large fuel supplies and sells it to customers such as railroads, trucking companies and gas stations. Its headquarters were in west suburban Forest View, but starting in 1985 it moved its sales operations out of Cook County to Elmhurst and other towns with lower tax rates.

The company has said in court papers that it looked to minimize its sales tax to offer competitive prices to customers.

In 2008, the Illinois Department of Revenue challenged Hartney's claim that its sales office was in Mark, a tiny village in Putnam County, about two hours southwest of Chicago. Starting in 2003, Hartney had a phone and space rented in the office of Putnam County Painting Co., enabling Hartney to claim it as the point of sale for its fuel business, records show.

Putnam County has no local sales tax so its tax rate is the same as the state’s, 6.25 percent. By comparison, Chicago’s tax rate is 9.25 percent and it was higher a few years ago.

In the Revenue Department's opinion, Hartney's business actually took place at its longtime office in Forest View, where orders were processed and fuel shipped by a related company. The state said Hartney owed $23 million in back taxes, interest and penalties.

A Putnam County judge ruled in favor of Hartney, and an appeals court upheld the ruling. The state, the RTA, Cook County and Forest View appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Recent Headlines

U.S. appeals judges: Go fight over lawsuits with Dorothy Brown in state court
Sunday, November 13, 2918
Chicago Sun-Times

She's been waiting 15 months for her rape kit to be processed. A new proposal to track evidence aims to change that.
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Preckwinkle to unveil policy roadmap for Cook County for next five years
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

COMMENTARY: Here's how the Shakman case curbed Cook County patronage
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Appeals court backs Dorothy Brown in lawsuit over public access to electronic records, says judge overstepped authority
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

What’s Next As Voters Overwhelmingly Support Higher Minimum Wage, Paid Sick Time
Monday, November 12, 2018
Journal and Topics Online

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's security chief fired after review spurred by watchdog report
Thursday, November 08, 2018
Chicago Tribune

An earlier opening day: 2019 Cook County forest preserves permits go on sale Nov. 15
Thursday, November 08, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County opening 2019 picnic permit sales Nov. 15
Monday, November 05, 2018
Special to

The Cook County Land Bank looks to go commercial
Monday, November 05, 2018
RE Journal

Nov. 15 is new opening date for Cook County forest preserves permits
Monday, November 05, 2018
Daily Herald

Cook County Gun Dealer, Minimum Wage Referendums On Ballot
Monday, November 05, 2018

The Abandoned WWI Monument One Chicago Man Is Determined To Save
Friday, November 02, 2018
Chicago Patch

Cook County freed from federal oversight
Thursday, November 01, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

First-of-its-kind trauma recovery center serves survivors of domestic violence, hate crimes, sexual assault, gun violence in Cook County
Monday, October 29, 2018

Northbrook opts in to Cook County paid sick leave ordinance, more uncertainty for employers, lawyer says
Monday, October 29, 2018
Cook County Record

First-of-its-kind Advocate Trauma Recovery Center serves survivors of domestic violence, hate crimes, sexual assault, gun violence in Cook County
Monday, October 29, 2018
WLS Channel 7

Cook County sheriff, CVS team up on safe prescription painkiller disposal
Saturday, October 27, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

HOPE Court, created to keep probationers out of prison, shut down amid problems
Friday, October 26, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Can Kaegi really reform the assessor's office?
Friday, October 26, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.