Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mayor Wants Amusement Tax on Your Satellite TV

According to Robert Mercer of DirecTV, "federal law prevents cities from taxing direct broadcast satellite services." But that is exactly what Mayor Daley wants to (and probably will) do. On Saturday Fran Spielman* (Sun-Times) reported on the new plan:

Now that Daley is scrounging around for every available dollar to plug a $469 million budget gap, the loophole may be about to close.

The revenue package expected to be approved Monday by the City Council's Budget Committee requires DirecTV and Dish Network to provide the city's Revenue Department with the name, address and telephone number of all Chicago subscribers. The companies are further required to warn subscribers they are 'liable' for the amusement tax' and 'may receive a separate bill from the city.'"
(They'll know who you are. Resistance is futile.)
The satellite industry is not going down without a fight. "We believe that federal law currently prohibits local taxation of satellite TV services while preserving the right of states to impose taxes," DISH spokesperson Robin Zimmerman wrote in an e-mail response to the Sun-Times.
We all know how Daley feels about the law lawyers, so "this ain't gonna be pretty", as they say. And it will lead to yet another hefty legal bill for the taxpayers to handle, adding to the budget problem and leading to more tax increases. But then again, there are plenty of lawyers working for the city (and making six-figure salaries) to keep this snowball rolling downhill.

The quote of the day is from Joe Widoff, executive director of the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association of America, who said:
"Turning around and making the cost of staying home to watch TV more expensive doesn't seem to be in taxpayers' interest or terribly consumer friendly."
Clearly he's not from around here, God bless him. Consumer friendly? Taxpayer's interest??? I can't even imagine such a thing entering the political dialogue in Chicago. Can you?

(*Fran Spielman is a favorite around here. Here's a link to her recent work. )

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