Actor Jussie Smollett, left, looks on during a press conference Tuesday. | Paul Beaty/AP; State Rep. Michael McAuliffe, right, meets with the Sun-Times Editorial Board in 2016. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

A ‘Jussie’ restriction? Lawmaker would nix tax credits for Smollett shows, films

SHARE A ‘Jussie’ restriction? Lawmaker would nix tax credits for Smollett shows, films
SHARE A ‘Jussie’ restriction? Lawmaker would nix tax credits for Smollett shows, films

On the same day Cook County prosecutors decided to drop charges against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett — sparking outrage from Chicago’s mayor and its top cop — a Chicago lawmaker pledged to file legislation to prohibit any production that employs the actor from receiving a state film credit.

State Rep. Michael McAuliffe, R-Chicago, said he’s filing the bill because Smollett “has cost Chicago a lot more than a $10,000 bond.” And the lawmaker said despite Smollett suffering no criminal repercussions for his alleged actions, the city must send a message.

Smollett was indicted on charges that accused him of staging a hate-crime attack against himself. The actor allegedly hired two men to attack him near his Streeterville home in January in a case that garnered national attention.

But prosecutors reversed course on Tuesday and dropped the charges. The $10,000 posted for the actor’s bond will be turned over to the city’s Law Department.

“Smollett should not be able to get anything more from the City of Chicago or Illinois,” McCauliffe said in a statement, while citing “a lot of valuable Chicago Police Department man hours and resources were wasted chasing down a bogus crime arranged by Smollett.”

Illinois gives TV shows and movies that film here a tax break. Productions can receive a 30 percent credit for purchases made in Illinois as well as any residents they hire. They get an extra 15 percent tax credit for hiring Illinois residents who live in neighborhoods with high unemployment. And they don’t have to pay the state’s 11.9 percent hotel occupancy tax on any room that’s occupied for at least 30 days by someone working on the production.

It has apparently helped attract the Hollywood crowd. A record nine original TV programs are filming here.

But under McAuliffe’s plan, any movie or TV production that employs Smollett would forfeit that credit or any other credits administered by the Illinois Department of Revenue or the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

The Northwest Side Republican said he plans to file the legislation this week.

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