Chicago politicians debate adding entertainment tax on symphony, opera

Posted on: November 5, 2015

“In the run-up to the City Council’s budget vote this week, the Progressive Caucus came up with a list of revenue-generating amendments including one intended to add a 9 percent tax to the cost of tickets for two of the city’s major cultural engines—Lyric Opera and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra,” writes Deanna Isaacs in Friday’s (10/30) Chicago Reader. “All the council would have to do is delete a paragraph of the Municipal Code … exempting opera companies and symphony orchestras from the amusement tax that the city collects on everything from movies and boat rides to baseball games…. 45th Ward alderman John Arena said that this alone would raise about $4.5 million annually for the city…. At Monday’s meeting of the City Council’s finance committee, this amendment was tabled. But it could reappear … expansion of the amusement tax is an idea that surfaces periodically. … The paragraph that exempts opera and symphony also looks like it exempts any other nonprofit artistic organization that produces its own events.” The Municipal Code “seems to say that in those cases where the amusement tax does apply to ‘live cultural performances,’ it’s applied at a special rate—not 9 percent, but 5 percent.”

Posted November 5, 2015