Concert Ticket Tax, Budget Pass In Chicago

A controversial amusement ticket tax and other new fees are coming to Chicago, with the city council’s approval Nov. 21 of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2018 budget.Aldermen overwhelmingly approved the budget, which will take effect in 2018, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Rahm Emanuel
– Rahm Emanuel

Emanuel framed the increases, expected to cost the average Chicago family an additional $174 per year, as a “public safety plan” to generate funds to hire nearly 1,000 additional police officers in a city shaken by gun violence in recent years.

The budget plan raises taxes on tickets for concerts, movies and comedy shows in addition to raising property taxes, ride-sharing fees and increases for telephone service.

Venues with capacities of more than 1,500 face ticket tax increases from 5 percent to 9 percent, though smaller building will have the tax eliminated. Emanuel, brother of WME Co-CEO Ari Emanuel, expects the tax to raise some $15.8 million, according to the Tribune.

Smaller venues exempted under the plan include Royal George Theatre, City Winery and the iO Theater. Fifteen larger venues, including Chicago Theatre (3,604 capacity),  Riviera Theatre (2,793), PrivateBank Theatre (7,895), and   Aragon Ballroom (4,873) will see their fees increase.

“Chicago politicians just voted to increase concert amusement taxes by a whopping 80 percent, making Chicago home to some of the highest amusement taxes in the country,” said a coalition of groups opposed to the tax on its website,

“This short-sighted tax will mean fewer shows in the city, meaning less work for the thousands of hotel, restaurant and venue employees who count on these shows to support their families.

“The vote has put thousands of Chicago jobs at risk but our work is not over. We will continue to advocate for the thousands of Chicago workers in the amusement industry.”