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Chicago approves controversial ‘ticket tax’ rise

The cost of many concert tickets in Chicago is set to rise after councillors voted overwhelmingly to increase the city’s amusement tax by 4% in 2018.

Chicago City Council on Tuesday approved mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2018 budget by a 47–3 vote, setting the stage for tax hikes on venues with a capacity over 1,500, from 5% to 9%. Currently, a 5% levy is imposed on tickets to any “live cultural performance in a for-profit venue.

Emanuel – the brother of WME co-CEO Ari – expects the tax increase to bring in an additional US$15.8 million for the city, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Mayor Emanuel expects the tax increase to bring in an additional $15.8m

Stop Higher Amusement Taxes, a coalition of thousands of Chicago entertainment-industry workers, opposes the rise, saying “higher concert amusement taxes will drive shows to venues outside of Chicago to more tax-friendly local cities – or worse: some shows may bypass Chicago altogether.”

However, venues with a 750–1,499 capacity – previously taxed at 5% – will be exempt, while those with under 750 seats will similarly pay no tax. The amusement tax made headlines last August after it emerged two venues – both of which will now be exempt – were being chased for $200,000 in “crippling” back taxes.

Other tax increases coming into effect on 1 January include hikes on property, water, sewerage and ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft.


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