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Cook County gives businesses more time to pay sales taxes

Consumers will continue to pay the Home Rule taxes when making purchases, but stores and other businesses won’t have to forwarding the money to the county until June 1.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on Friday, March 27, 2020.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle
Brian Rich/Sun-Times file

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced Tuesday the county will extend the deferment of collecting some taxes to coincide with Gov. J. B. Pritzker’s modified stay-at-home order.

The county’s Home Rule taxes — which include the alcoholic beverage, amusement, tobacco, gasoline and hotel accommodations taxes — were initially deferred for the February and March tax periods until May.

Collections have now been deferred until June 1, according to Preckwinkle’s office.

“Extending the period of time to pay these fines, fees and taxes is the right decision while businesses and residents continue to struggle with the economic fallout of the coronavirus,” Preckwinkle said in a news release. “During these tough times, pushing the deadlines on this economic package will provide additional relief to our businesses as hopefully a little breathing room to cover expenses.”

No penalties or interest will be applied during the extension period.

Last month, Preckwinkle announced the county would waive a number of fines and fees and defer the collection of some taxes to aid businesses grappling with coronavirus containment efforts.

Consumers will continue to pay the taxes when making purchases, but the store or other business will get a break in the time frame for forwarding the revenue to the county. County officials expect the delay in tax collections to amount to about $45 million back in the hands of county businesses for the time being.

Fines and fees typically administered by the Departments of Transportation and Highways, Environment and Sustainability, Revenue, Building and Zoning and Public Health will also be delayed or extended, with many not needing to be paid until July or August.

In a Tuesday statement, Ammar Rizki, the county’s chief financial officer, said the county expects the economic impact of the coronavirus to be “substantial” and the county believes extending many of the deadlines to June 1 “can help businesses weather this storm” and “help our businesses with a path to recovery by providing much-needed cash flow during this pandemic.“