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Mayor Lori Lightfoot aims to tighten Chicago’s tax collection for online booze, water sales

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 2/19/2020 By John Byrne, Chicago Tribune
a man wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks at the Illinois state Capitol on Feb. 18, 2020. © Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks at the Illinois state Capitol on Feb. 18, 2020.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is cracking down on the online sale of alcohol and bottled water to make sure Chicagoans who get those beverages shipped to their homes and businesses pay the same amount of tax as people who buy them in stores in the city.

Lightfoot introduced an ordinance Wednesday clarifying that liquor and water wholesalers are required to collect applicable taxes when they sell “to a purchaser for use or consumption in the city and not for resale.”

With more and more people shopping for drinks from home, that’s an apparent attempt to stop online distributors such as Amazon that deliver from outside the city from avoiding some of the high local taxes on booze and bottled water.

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In addition, stores that get wholesale alcohol or water shipped to them are required to make sure the correct amount of tax has been collected and, if not, pay it themselves directly to the city, according to the ordinance.

“It shouldn’t be that you go to the liquor store near your house and you pay the tax, but you get liquor shipped to your house and you don’t,” said Comptroller Reshma Soni. “So this is seeking to close that loophole.”

Chicago has had a 5-cents-per-bottle tax on bottled water for more than a decade. The city heaps “sin taxes” on beer, wine and liquor sales.

jebyrne@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @_johnbyrne

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