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New legislature could cause Grundy County to lose $1.8M

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

MORRIS – Grundy County could lose as much as $1.8 million in future revenue if the Illinois legislature redefines the state’s current point of sale tax laws.

During Tuesday’s county board meeting, the county board discussed the possible implications of a recent Illinois Supreme Court decision that addressed point of sale tax laws.

The case in review involved an oil company based in Cook County that routed all of its purchases through a small office in Putnam County so it could take advantage of the county’s much lower sales tax rate, explained Grundy County State’s Attorney Jason Helland during the meeting.

The Illinois Department of Revenue sued the company for $23 million dollars for evading tax laws.

The court ruled that current point of sale tax laws are unconstitutional and recommended the legislature change the laws to make them more consistent with state statutes.

Despite this, the Supreme Court did not charge the oil company with violating tax law since the law was presumed legal during their transactions, Helland explained.

The company will be refunded the $23 million.

In Grundy County, companies not based within the county are using similar taxing strategies.

“We don’t stand to lose any revenue we’ve made up to this point,” Helland said after the meeting. “This would only affect future revenues.”

While the legislature has not made any changes to the laws yet, Helland said he expects the changes will come soon.

“We should expect legislative action in the next six months to a year,” Helland told the board. “I expect it won’t be favorable to Grundy County.”

Grundy County Board Chairman Ron Severson said the county stands to lose as much as $1.8 million in revenues from companies in Channahon and Morris if the legislature eliminates the current point of sale laws.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the board approved a resolution to close certain county offices on Christmas Eve and New Year’s day.

“We typically get 13 paid holidays a year, but this year we will get 15,” Severson said after the meeting.

About 200 employees will get the two days off.

Although the decision will cost the county nothing out of pocket, the value of letting the workers off is estimated to be $42,000 total or $21,000 each day.

“Our employees are valuable and it really doesn’t hurt the county because hardly anyone comes in [to work] on New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve anyway,” Severson said.

Severson said the resolution did not include the county’s judicial offices, which are free to set their own holidays.

“This will allow our employees to stay home with their families with no cost to the taxpayers,” Severson said.

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