Suffredin- Changing County Government  
 

Accountability
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:  
   
 
 

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

   
 

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

   
  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.
   
     
     
     



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

Preckwinkle, Evans end budget battle
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

How Transparent and Accountable Are Chicago, Cook County Governments?
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
WTTW Chicago Tonight

2 Cook County courthouses to close, employees spared layoffs under budget settlement: officials
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Troubled detainee at center of unusual court fight between Loyola hospital, Cook County
Monday, July 16, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Commissioners Confounded by Hiring of Health System Consultant
Monday, July 16, 2018
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

Doctor fired by Cook County medical examiner now under the microscope in Indiana
Sunday, July 15, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

County officials defend Forest Preserves police in wake of man harassing woman over Puerto Rican flag shirt
Friday, July 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Familiar questions about ‘bystander effect’ arise after man berates woman for Puerto Rico shirt
Friday, July 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Berrios' analysts used Zillow, other shortcuts in assessing property values, documents show
Friday, July 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Northbrook to revisit Cook County paid sick leave policy after opting out last year
Friday, July 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Forest Preserves officials discuss officer's resignation
Friday, July 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Amid video fallout, Cook County Forest Preserve District reveals fatal crash involving worker and governmental truck
Friday, July 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Transformation in the outdoors
Friday, July 13, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

Forest preserve cop resigns after apparently failing to help woman being harassed over Puerto Rico shirt
Thursday, July 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

5 things: A civics lesson on Puerto Rico after man rants about woman's flag T-shirt, questions citizenship
Thursday, July 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Commissioners: Get Rid of Forest Preserve Police
Thursday, July 12, 2018
WTTW Chicago Tonight

Schneider wants hearing over fatal crash blamed on Cook forest preserve driver
Thursday, July 12, 2018
Daily Herald

Man who harassed woman for Puerto Rican flag shirt charged with hate crime
Thursday, July 12, 2018
WLS ABC 7 Chicago

EDITORIAL: A judge drops a gun on a courthouse floor. So much for respect for the law
Thursday, July 12, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Forest preserve officer who didn't help woman in Puerto Rican flag shirt 'tarnished the whole department,' commissioner says
Thursday, July 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

all news items

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