Actions On Taxes Have Consequences

I’ve written a couple of times about the Cook County “violence tax”. On Friday, the Cook County Board’s Finance Committee in a special meeting approved this tax.

Taxes are an important consideration for any business.

Outdoor (and firearm) retailer Cabela’s opened a large store in Hoffman Estates, IL in 2007. This is in the western part of Cook County. Soon after, the Cook County Board raised property taxes. Retailers are assessed based upon their retail space. Though it has a second floor, this Cabela’s store has closed that section and crammed everything into the first floor of the store in an effort to reduce their taxes.

In an article published yesterday in The American Thinker, Anthony Ciani speculates that the Hoffman Estates store may become the first Cabela’s to close down and this new firearms tax may be the reason.

When bullets only cost 3.5¢ to 20¢ apiece, a 5¢ tax is ridiculous, and $25 per gun is around 5% to 10% of the value of most guns. Preckwinkle dropped the bullet tax but the gun tax was just approved by the Finance Committee for a vote by the whole, along with a bunch of other tax increases. Primary season is long over with. The proposal is not an anti-gun tax, but retail vampirism disguised as sin taxes. The normal sales taxes in Cook County are already high, and the sales tax in the Village of Hoffman Estates is 9.5%. There is no reason for a person to pay a total tax of between 14.5% and 19.5% on a gun purchase in Cook County, when they can go 3 miles down the road to one of Illinois’ largest gun dealers, GAT Guns, in East Dundee, Kane County, where the sales tax is only 8.25%.

While Cabela’s has not indicated that they will close the store, Ciani says they have good reason to do it and offers some suggestions on how they can make it a win-win proposition for the company.

Read the whole article here.

It Is Still Taxing A Fundamental Right

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has backed off of her idea to levy a 5 cents per cartridge “violence tax”. However, according to the Chicago Tribune, Preckwinkle still plans to go forward with her tax on firearms. This was part of a grand compromise with some Democrats on the County Board who were balking at the proposed Cook County Firearm and Firearm Ammunition Tax Ordinance.

The compromise was negotiated over several days with Commissioners John
Fritchey and Edwin Reyes, both Chicago Democrats, who had balked at the
guns and ammo taxes.

In exchange for their support,
Preckwinkle agreed to create a $2 million fund to combat gun violence.
Fritchey had proposed dedicating $1.4 million to anti-gun violence
efforts. She also agreed to exempt law-enforcement officers from having
to pay the tax, which helped convince Reyes to support the plan.

An
undetermined portion of the $2 million would be granted to “non-profits
with a track record of effective violence prevention and community
outreach.” About $100,000 would be used to crack down on illegal gun
purchases.

The budget director for the county estimates that the tax on firearms will raise $600,000. If she is correct, this works out to 120,000 firearms purchases annually in Cook County. Using my iPhone’s FFL Finder app, I count approximately 35 licensed firearms dealers within Cook County. This works out to sales of over 3,400 firearms per shop over the course of a year. Frankly, I think the budget director is dreaming if she thinks there will be this many sales in the county in a year.

As Sebastian noted back when this first came up, there is significant Supreme Court precedent saying that taxing a fundamental right in order to discourage its use is unconstitutional. Given the legislative history of this ordinance and the public pronouncements of Ms. Preckwinkle, I don’t think attorneys such as Alan Gura or David Sigale would have to go far to find sufficient cause to get an injunction. If I were a taxpayer in Cook County, I’d be pretty upset to see my tax dollars going to fund the court case that passage of this tax will undoubtedly engender.

Cook County “Violence Tax” And Budget Public Hearings

Cook County (IL) Board President Toni Preckwinkle is going ahead with her proposed “violence tax” on arms and ammunition. It has been included in the proposed 2013 Executive Budget for Cook County. The tax officially called the Firearms and Firearm Ammunition Tax would levy a $25 fee per firearm on all new gun purchases as well as a 5 cent per round tax on all ammunition sales. The full text of the proposed Cook County Firearm and Firearm Ammunition Tax Ordinance can be found here.

The board will hold four public hearings on the 2013 Executive Budget over the next week beginning this evening. The National Shooting Sports Foundation has issued an action alert on these hearings and suggests that those who can attend one of these meetings make their voice heard. The hearing date and times are below. Note that if you want to testify you must sign up first.

Over the next week, there have been four public hearings scheduled
on the proposed 2013 Executive Budget. If possible please attend one
these hearings and testify in opposition to the tax. You must sign up first to testify.
Date Time Location
Thursday, Oct. 25 6:30 p.m. Second District Courthouse
5600 Old Orchard Road, Conf. Room 201
Skokie, IL
Friday, Oct. 26 9 a.m. Cook County Building
118 N. Clark St. Board Room, Rm. 569
Chicago, IL
Tuesday, Oct. 30 6:30 p.m. Sixth District Courthouse
16501 S. Kedzie Pkwy., Courtroom 098
Markham, IL
Thursday, Nov. 1 6:30 p.m. Fourth District Courthouse
1500 South Maybrook Dr., Courtroom 106
Maywood, IL

Even if you can’t attend one of these hearings, the NSSF suggests calling the members of the Cook County Board and expressing your displeasure over the “violence tax”. A list of board members and their phone numbers can be found here.

As Sebastian noted earlier this month, taxing a constitutional right for the purposes of discouraging it is unconstitutional. I’m sure the Second Amendment Foundation has no problems taking more money from the Chicago-area politicians in attorney’s fees. That said, I think everyone involved would just as soon see this stopped dead in its tracks at the county board level.