Shoppers, store owners concerned about tax hike

July 1, 2008 5:26:00 PM PDT
The sales tax in Cook County is now 10.25 percent, which is the highest in the country. Some shoppers and store owners are concerned about the tax hike. The Cook County board along with board President Todd Stroger voted to approve the tax hike back in February. It applies to clothes, furniture, alcohol and restaurant food.

Some Chicagoans are now re-thinking their morning routines.

"I plan on curbing what I buy because this [coffee] just costs like $2.04. For me it's kind of ridiculous," said Mike Farrell. "I want to go someplace else to get [coffee] or start drinking green tea, something I can make at home."

The new rate puts Chicago ahead of other cities. The sales tax in Memphis, Tennessee, is 9.25 percent. New Orleans charges 9 percent, while shoppers in New York City pay 8.375 percent.

Despite the high sales tax, many Chicagoans say they'll still support local stores, but they just might cut back a little.

"When we're in the suburbs, we will definitely go out. We will not probably make a special trip just to avoid the sales tax, but we have definitely been watching, watching the way we spend with the economy as a whole," said Heather Jagher.

"I don't have too much of an option. I will have to shop around here. I live both up in Lake Forest and down here. Sometimes I will shop up in Lake Forest because actually it's a little cheaper outside of that being down here, but it's -- it's really expensive down here," said David Thesenga.

Chicago's Lake View community is home to hundreds of stores and restaurants. Small business owners in the neighborhood are also not happy about the sales tax hike.

"Everything is going up. It's hurting everyone," said Nicky Kanellakis, business owner. "It's going to affect everybody's business. It's not good for anybody in our community."

"I have got to be honest with you. I am going to be online more because you don't have to pay as much tax," said Rory Tanksley.

The U.S. Supreme Court has recently ruled that an online retailer does not have to collect local and state taxes unless that business has an office or store in the state.

The sales tax increase does not apply to medicines and groceries.


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