Preckwinkle: Time for Delinquent Businesses to Pay Their Fair Share
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle launched a new initiative today to identify unregistered businesses that are delinquent in paying taxes to the Cook County Department of Revenue, one step in an effort to reach an overall goal of $10.2 million in delinquent revenue. In accordance with President Preckwinkle’s goals of fiscal responsibility, transparency and accountability, the Department of Revenue is increasing efforts to ensure fair and equitable Tax Compliance throughout the County. Since November of 2010, the Department of Revenue has been aggressively pursuing individuals who have been historically delinquent in remitting their taxes to the County. Now, President Preckwinkle wants to take that same effort to businesses who are avoiding paying their fair share. “No one likes to pay taxes but when one group of individuals or businesses is chronically delinquent, it hurts everyone who has done their part and paid their fair share,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “We are taking steps to incentivize business participation and encourage disclosure in a timely manner. We intend to work to ensure that everyone is being treated fairly; that’s what this process is all about.” Preckwinkle launched the Voluntary Disclosure Program (VDP) for all businesses that are currently not registered with the Department to encourage them to remit taxes owed as required by various County home rule tax ordinances. To further encourage participation, the Department is offering unregistered businesses to pay taxes and interest dating back only four years. The Department will also waive penalties associated with those taxes. The Department is also offering an additional limited time only incentive of interest waivers for those unregistered businesses that voluntarily register prior to October 31, 2011. “We want businesses to know that this is not punitive, but we want them to also know that we will be taking the necessary steps to curb delinquency,” Preckwinkle said. “We are giving an opportunity to waive many of the required fees so long as they agree to pay these fees going forward. If you fail to live up to your end of the bargain, we have the ability to issue a Notice of Audit/Assessment or possibly investigate. We are looking at all possible steps to ensure fair and complete compliance with County ordinances.” If you owe tax money to the government, there is nothing to be gained by putting off paying it, since penalties and interest charges start immediately, said Cook County Director of Revenue Zahra Ali. Businesses and individuals in Cook County are required to pay certain Home Rule Taxes according to County ordinance. Those taxes include: Alcoholic Beverages Tax; Amusement Tax; Gas Tax; Use Tax; Sales of New Motor Vehicles and Parking Garage Tax.