Tuesday, August 05, 2014
HMB's Jordan Goodman and Chris Lutz Quoted in Chicago Daily
Law Bulletin Article
"Cook Co. Use Tax Violates State Law"
Excerpt from Chicago Daily Law Bulletin,
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
A state appeals court ruled Monday that a Cook County tax
violated state law, a second strike against a fee the county hoped
would produce about $14 million in revenue this year.
In a consolidated case against the county, Reed, Smith LLP and
Horwood Marcus &
Berk Chtd. contended that the Illinois County
Code prohibited use taxes based on the sales price of
property and claimed the tax ordinance violated provisions of the
state and federal constitutions.
Circuit Judge Robert Lopez Cepero issued a
preliminary injunction against the tax in August
2013 and granted summary judgment for the
plaintiffs in October.
On appeal, the county contended the ordinance did not violate
state law because it did not impose a use tax on the sales price of
property, but rather its value.
In a 13-page unpublished order written by Justice Mathias W.
Delort, the panel found that the term "value" was ambiguous. It
looked to the county's legislative intent for guidance.
The panel rejected the county's argument that there were four
acceptable ways to determine value of items subject to the tax, of
which two are based on sales price, then reduced for
Because the panel found the county ordinance to be prohibited on
statutory grounds, it declined to address questions of
The ruling affirms the circuit court's judgment enjoining the
county from collecting the tax.
Justices Maureen E. Connors and Joy V. Cunningham concurred in
the unpublished order.
The county was represented by Daniel F. Gallagher, chief of the
Cook County state's attorney's office's civil actions bureau, and
Assistant State's Attorneys Paul A. Castiglione, Kent S. Ray and
Sarah W. Cunningham. Gallagher could not be reached for
Horwood Marcus & Berk was represented by
M. Goodman, David
S. Ruskin and Christopher
Goodman said he is pleased with the ruling and is confident it
will survive a rehearing if the county requests one.
"In our eyes, it's over unless the Supreme Court takes the
case," he said.
Lutz said the decision is good for the firm and its clients not
simply because they won't owe the tax, but because the online
filing requirements it imposed were troublesome.
"The burden of complying with the tax - it was a completely
separate framework," Lutz said. "We filed our return over here, and
it was a pain."
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