Wheeling to impose amusement tax on movies, entertainment

  • A rendering shows updated plans for the CMX Cinemas scheduled to open in the fall at Wheeling Town Center. Village trustees this week voted to impose a 4 percent amusement tax on theater ticket sales, as well as other entertainment venues in town.

    A rendering shows updated plans for the CMX Cinemas scheduled to open in the fall at Wheeling Town Center. Village trustees this week voted to impose a 4 percent amusement tax on theater ticket sales, as well as other entertainment venues in town. Courtesy of Wheeling

 
 
Updated 4/18/2019 1:33 PM

Wheeling has created a new tax on entertainment-related activities -- just ahead of the opening of the new CMX Cinemas movie theater.

The village board approved a 4 percent amusement tax Monday that will apply to ticket sales at movie theaters, bowling alleys, live theaters, billiard facilities and trampoline parks. The CMX theater, which is the anchor retail business at Wheeling Town Center, is expected to open this fall.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Of the communities that don't have a tax, it is most often the case that the reason they don't have it is because they didn't have a need for it, just as the village of Wheeling didn't have a need for it prior to our current developments," Village Manager Jon Sfondilis said.

The village researched 26 communities in the Chicago area and found 18 towns imposed an amusement tax. Towns that do have an amusement tax most commonly tax at 4 percent, village officials said.

Trustee Joe Vito, the only village board member to vote against the tax, said it sends the wrong message to CMX Cinemas.

"It's basically, 'Welcome, here's a new tax we're implementing for you,'" Vito said.

The tax also will apply to Pinheads Jeffery Lanes, the village's only bowling alley.

"They've been here forever, and it's just a kick in the pants," Vito said.

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But village officials say the amusement tax is an attractive option to generate revenue because the village will not collect property taxes at the Wheeling Town Center for many years, as a result of the development's location within a tax increment financing district.

The amusement tax also will ease the property tax burden on residents and other businesses while offsetting the cost of public safety services at areas that generate lots of customers, according to the village.

Under the amusement tax, 1 percent of the amount collected will be returned to businesses to help offset the cost of implementing the tax.

The tax will go into effect June 1.

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