Preckwinkle aims to recoup delinquent Cook County taxes

 
 
Updated 9/29/2011 4:57 PM

Businesses owe Cook County $10.2 million in overdue taxes on things such as alcohol, gasoline and new car sales, and now the financially strapped county is launching a new partial amnesty program to go after that money.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on Thursday announced a program to identify unregistered businesses that have failed to pay taxes such as the alcoholic beverages tax, amusement tax, gas tax, use tax, sales of new motor vehicles tax and parking garage tax.

 

It's voluntary, but officials say they'll aggressively go after businesses that don't sign up and are later found to be delinquent on those taxes.

Under the program, businesses can pay overdue taxes and interest dating back four years with no penalties, but to do this, they must voluntarily register with the Cook County Department of Revenue before Oct. 31.

"We are giving an opportunity to waive many of the required fees so long as they agree to pay these fees going forward," Preckwinkle said in a statement. "We are looking at all possible steps to ensure fair and complete compliance with county ordinances."

Businesses that don't register with the county and don't voluntarily pay could end up having to pay taxes going back seven years, as well as penalties and interest of up to 50 percent.

When businesses are chronically delinquent, it hurts everyone who does pay their taxes, Preckwinkle said.

"We are taking steps to incentivize business participation and encourage disclosure in a timely manner," she said in the statement. "We intend to work to ensure that everyone is being treated fairly; that's what this process is all about."