SBD/September 10, 2012/Facilities

County To Fight Judge's Ruling That Lets Bears Off Hook For $4M In Back Taxes

Cook County (Ill.) officials said that they “plan to fight a judge’s ruling that let the Chicago Bears off the hook for millions of dollars in taxes the county argues it’s owed,” according to Erin Meyer of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Cook County Circuit Court Judge Margaret Ann Brennan last month ruled that the Bears "are not obligated to pay" about $4M, after years of “debate and legal squabbling about whether Chicago sports teams owe back taxes and interest on amenities purchased by patrons in premium seats." The county “levies amusement taxes on all kinds of entertainment events, ranging from sports exhibitions to concerts.” The debate “focuses on the taxation of game-day drinks, food and parking, items that are often included in the bill for luxury suites and club seating.” The Bears “successfully argued in a lawsuit filed against the county in 2011 that the team shouldn’t have to pay the amusement tax on those amenities.” The Cubs also have “disputed the amusement tax on premium seating, while the White Sox entered into a settlement on the issue in 2008” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/10). In Chicago, Lisa Donovan noted the Bears organization has “found itself on the defense since 2009, when revenue officials sent a bill stating the Bears owed millions in amusement taxes and interest from 2002 to 2007.” County officials argue that the Bears “should be collecting the 3 percent amusement tax not just on ticket prices but also on amenities -- such as food, beverages and parking -- that are tied to the premium-seat tickets.” But the team has argued that the amusement tax ordinance "says the taxes apply only to the cost of entering the stadium and watching the game -- not the added benefits tied to those premium tickets” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 9/9).
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