CHICAGO -- The City of Big Shoulders is adding to its distinguishing features, with a sales tax set to climb to the highest of any major U.S. city.
Cook County commissioners voted 9-7 Wednesday to raise the sales tax 1 percentage point to a whopping 10.25 percent.
The increase, backed by Cook County board President Toni Preckwinkle, takes effect Jan. 1. It will generate about $308 million in additional annual revenue, with $270 million of it funding pensions, $10 million going to roads and infrastructure, and $25 million to debt service, the Sun-Times reports.
"We're talking about a plan that will put Cook County on a long-term path to financial stability," Preckwinkle said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Chicago already has one of the highest sales tax rates among major U.S. cities. Raising it even higher was unwelcome news to Windy City business owners.
"Please say no to the public becoming a money faucet each and every time the government says it needs money," Craig Horwitz, who owns a jewelry store in downtown Chicago's Water Tower Place, testified to the commission, according to the Tribune. "This is not how one rebounds from a three-year recession."
High taxes have long been a fact of life in Chicago, and this isn't the city's first brush with a 10.25 percent sales tax rate. The city had the same tax rate before Preckwinkle, fresh off her first-term win as board president, in 2010 rolled back the county tax rate 0.5 percentage point, lowering Chicago's tax rate to 9.75 percent. A few years later, the county tax rate was trimmed twice more, to the current 9.25 percent.
The Tax Foundation told The Huffington Post that while other localities have sales tax rates higher than Chicago's, comparisons are difficult. Some, for example, have high sales taxes to compensate for low income taxes.
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