The Cook County Board of Commissioners has approved a budget including a $25 tax on gun sales. Board President Toni Preckwinkle dropped an earlier proposal for a nickel-per-“bullet” tax to round up support for the gun tax, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The gun tax was part of a program of increases designed to close a hefty budget shortfall. The county also raised cigarette taxes by a dollar a pack and added new levies for video poker machines and a use tax for out-of-country purchases of more than $3,500.
Commissioner Bridget Gainer said “I think the revenue increases are small, they’re targeted and largely they’re avoidable, if you so choose, to residents of the county.”
Illinois State Rifle Ass’n Executive Director Richard Pearson said “As a matter of principle, gun owners are not going to pay the $25 transfer fee—they’ll just buy guns in the collar counties. The average sales tax due on a firearm purchase in Cook County is probably around $80. So, for the sake of punishing gun owners, the Cook County Board will forego at least $105 in real and anticipated tax receipts per firearm not purchased in Cook County due to public opposition to the transfer fee. Only in the chambers of the Cook County Board could such a proposal make sense.” While $25 in tax is not that much in the context of a $1,000 pistol or $2,500 shotgun, it’s a lot bigger percentage of more modestly-priced arms. It’s clear that Cook Co. legislators regard a tax on firearms as a sort of “sin tax,” and that’s not an idea gun owners find acceptable.
They especially don’t find acceptable the notion that exercising a constitutional right can be taxable, with taxes subject to increase at a future date. Illinois’ now-imprisoned Gov. Rod Blagojevich, for example, proposed raising the fee for a Firearms Owners Identification Card, essential in Illinois for buying guns or ammo, to $500. A $25 tax that causes only grumbling is a far different proposition at $25 or $2,500.