Chicago city superintendent reinstates a gun tax suspended by Mayor Rahm Emanuel last year

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson on Friday formally reinstalled the city’s gun and ammunition tax after a three-judge panel in a lawsuit ruled the city’s mayor last year overstepped his power by cutting the…

Chicago city superintendent reinstates a gun tax suspended by Mayor Rahm Emanuel last year

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson on Friday formally reinstalled the city’s gun and ammunition tax after a three-judge panel in a lawsuit ruled the city’s mayor last year overstepped his power by cutting the tax.

Johnson, in written testimony submitted to the court, said it was “imperative” to revert to the tax because the city “faces a critical shortage of capital to meet some of our financial obligations” that will require more than $1 billion in additional borrowing in addition to an expected $440 million increase in pension payments this year.

The new taxes will add roughly $7 to the average gun purchase of about $410. More than $60 million was withheld from the firearms industry after Mayor Rahm Emanuel jettisoned the tax last June.

“I am grateful the Board of Alderman has prevailed and that I can return the money I withheld from this industry,” Johnson said in a written statement. “We have to face reality. We need to sell more guns and ammunition to pay back our state and federal obligations, and that means more money from gun industry sales.”

Since April 2014, Chicago residents have been paying a tax of nearly 14 percent on gun sales and an additional 3 percent tax on ammunition. Over the past eight years, city residents have paid $1.7 billion on gun sales and $32 million on ammunition.

Businesses are subject to the tax if their gross annual sales total more than $400,000.

The tax initially was intended to bolster Chicago’s shattered trust with the state of Illinois in light of its failure to make the $134 million in annual payments to the city under a state law. While prosecutors in Illinois reached a legal settlement with several gun makers in 1997 to make sure they paid the tax, Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislators have been unable to reach an agreement on whether to guarantee state revenue through court order.

In December, city officials announced they would resume tax collections, arguing the city was able to revive revenue by suing the firearms industry. Last month, three judges ruled it was not fair to let the gun manufacturers sue the city, as the case was barred from courts on state grounds.

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