Liquor Distributor|Fights New Taxes

     CHICAGO (CN) – A liquor distributor claims that Illinois’ new liquor tax is “unreasonable and unlawful,” and wants to keep its $849,000 in tax payments out of the state’s Capital Projects Fund, or any other state coffer. Wirtz Beverage claims that four new laws, which also will raise sales taxes on candy, privatize the state lottery and legalize video poker, will unconstitutionally spend public money on private ventures.

     In its complaint in Cook County Court, Wirtz objects that the new laws increase taxes on beer by 22 percent, but jacks up taxes on wine and spirits by 90 percent.
     Wirtz says that “there is no rationale expressed to explain the increases,” and that it is illegal to tax “identical subjects and objects at different rates.”
     The new tax is in addition to the previous liquor tax, which continues to be deposited in the state’s general revenue fund.
     Wirtz claims the new tax on liquor “strikes out” at a small group of business enterprises “without justification or principle.”
     It also objects to a new “candy tax.” Candy was previously taxed at 1 percent, rather than the 6.25 percent assessed on other food, but the new Omnibus Bill kills that exception, except for “candy containing flour or requiring refrigeration,” which keeps its tax break.
     Wirtz says it’s paying its taxes under protest.
     It claims that the new legislation has illegally combined several unrelated matters in violation of the Illinois Constitution’s “single subject rule.”
     The bills signed in July by Gov. Pat Quinn include, bridge and road weight standards, and amended the state’s Environmental Protection Act.
     Rocky Wirtz, owner of the Chicago Blackhawks, filed a suit last month on behalf of Wirtz Beverage and Illinois taxpayers for related allegations.
     Wirtz Beverage seeks a full refund on the taxes it’s paid under protest, plus interest.
     It is represented by Floyd Perkins with Ungaretti & Harris.

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