After national media coverage and outcry from members of the Chicago music community, Cook County passed a new amendment to the amusement tax to now consider all types of music fine art. This provides a tax exception for small venues providing cultural experiences, including nightclubs.
In late August, Cook County claimed that music genres such as rap, rock, and dance were not considered "culture" and therefore were not exempt from an amusement tax placed on ticket sales. Two Chicago clubs in particular, Beauty Bar and Evil Olive, were forced to pay $200,000 in taxes, interest and penalties dating back six years.
However, the fight is not over.
According to Bruce Finkelman, Managing Partner of 16" on Center which owns restaurants and venues such as Empty Bottle, Thalia Hall and Beauty Bar , Cook County is not adjusting the rule to apply to the venues' past years in operation, meaning the venues still owe money. "We've followed the rules for years and shouldn't have these outrageous back taxes being forced upon us," he said.
The next hearing for the past-due taxes is scheduled to take place October 24 at 118 N. Clark at the Cook County Department of Administrative Hearings on the 11th floor. According to Finkelman, they have invited witnesses and "some goodies" to the hearing for the judge. They are asking friends and family in Chicago to rally support.
"The County is trying to claim some sort of victory here, but we all know you can't be half an asshole," Finkelman said. "So, until they come all the way around and dismiss our case, we will continue to fight."