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Chicago Heights Voices: Businesses, Residents Need Tax Relief

As Springfield ponders hearings about business tax, some in Chicago Heights say that's just one piece of financial puzzle.

The Illinois General Assembly is planning a review of its business tax structure, a move some Chicago Heights business people say is both overdue and fails to go far enough.

According to media reports in Crain’s Chicago Business and other publications, a joint House-Senate Revenue committee will examine the boost in business tax, which has caused some firms to explore moving out of state.

Chicago Heights resident Art Wiggins Jr. points out that many businesses are already gone. He points to the exit of Gineris Accounting, a longtime Heights family business that relocated to Dyer, Indiana. “That business started out in 1946 right behind the library in Chicago Heights, sixty years here,” said Wiggins. “They couldn’t take it any longer.”

“If you’re a business, and you know your tax can drop from $20,000 a year to $5,000 a year, and you can go from six parking spaces up to 30 parking spaces, what are you going to do?” Wiggins asked.

‘Tax is a killer’

Chuck Schindler, a realtor who sells property in Chicago Heights, echoed the $20,000 figure. “Tax is a killer,” he said.  “You’re paying $20,000 for a corner lot, it’s a killer.”

However, examining corporate tax without considering the roles of steep residential taxes is a mistake as well, said Schindler.

“You’re looking at an 1950’s home, without a basement, extra bathroom, we’re not talking a mansion, and it’s $6,000 in taxes...that keeps people from doing business,” he said.

'Everything is high, everything'

Brian Lien, owner of Scott Sign in Chicago Heights, agreed that the overall cost of living is impacting the health of area businesses. “Everything is high here, sales tax, everything,” said Lien.

“Cook County is ridiculous. We’re right on Route 30, we should have car dealerships, everything. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have more people and ask for less, then chase everybody out and get nothing?”

Businesses and residents support one another, but there’s few left, said Lien. “You can’t buy a pair of socks downtown, there’s no restaurants left, no car dealerships, it’s crazy. I want to see businesses come back. You’ll get more jobs, youll get people spending more.”

The state should cut small business-owners into the hefty perks large corporations enjoy, said Lien. “They want to give these big companies breaks, they’ve got to spread it around, give it to every business. I need business, to stay in business.”

If the state doesn’t listen and other states do, there will be one outcome, predicted Lien: “Everyone’s going to move to Indiana.”

Tony Casino July 02, 2011 at 11:28 AM
Don't confuse local government and county government with the state. The real problem for business in Chicago Heights and surrounding communities is the Cook County Property Tax Bill along with the City of Chicago Heights Property Tax Levy and its Sales Tax Percentage. The multiplier on the Cook County Property Tax bill is a killer for Chicago Heights businesses. The recent increase in the State of Illinois Corporate Tax places Illinois more in line with neighboring states. Don't be confused readers, Cook County Property Taxes are pushing our businesses to Will County and Northwest Indiana. The bottom line, reform the Cook County Property Tax system!! The future of Cook County depends on it!
Carla Lorenzetti July 02, 2011 at 09:45 PM
Amen! From one of the restaurants that is still there....Carla Lorenztti
Leslie Lynnton Fuller July 04, 2011 at 05:11 PM
Carla, where is your restaurant? I'll check it out sometime!
Leslie Lynnton Fuller July 04, 2011 at 05:17 PM
Tony, I think you're right, these are all separate, complex factors: state taxes, county taxes and the cost of living here in the Southland. That being said, if you had an interview with Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, what would you ask her & why?

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