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Rep. David McSweeney passes resolution opposing 'Netflix tax'

The Illinois House passed a resolution Wednesday opposing a new sales tax on cable TV and streaming services such as Netflix.

The resolution, introduced by Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, takes aim at Senate Bill 9, which is part of the so-called grand bargain package of budget bills being considered in the Senate.

The resolution received bipartisan support in the House and passed by voice vote, meaning there was no roll call, McSweeney said.

“There was some discussion on the floor that puts us on the record as opposition to one part of the grand bargain. I’m very happy about that,” McSweeney said. “It’s a major nail, not the final nail, but a major nail in the coffin of the Senate grand bargain.”

The grand bargain is a series of tied together budget bills that include, among other things, proposals to raise income and corporate taxes by 33 percent, expand the state sales tax to include a number of services, expand gambling and provide minor structural reforms. Because the bills are interconnected, if one does not pass, none of them do.

Senate Bill 9 would add a 6.25 percent sales tax to the bills of all cable and satellite TV subscribers, and to audio and video streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify. It often is referred to as the “Netflix tax.”

State Rep. Arthur Turner, D-Chicago, opposed the resolution, saying it limited lawmakers’ taxing options.

“Why would we want to tie our hands before we begin any real revenue discussions considering our fiscal situation?” he asked McSweeney. 

McSweeney noted that Chicagoans already pay a 9 percent “amusement” tax on these services, so those who live in the city would pay a 15.25 percent sales tax on cable, satellite and streaming services.

“This would definitely make us uncompetitive,” McSweeney said. “It’s just another attempt to drive more people out of state.”

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