Chicago Bears’ First Loss of the Season is a Costly One
On Thursday, August 7, the 1st District Appeals Court of Illinois issued their ruling in a tax dispute between the Chicago Bears and Cook County Department of Revenue. The showdown remained close until the very end where the Bears came up short in a 2-1 split decision awarding Cook County $4.1 million plus interest in unpaid taxes.
The dispute arose over the statutory construction of Cook County’s 3% amusement tax. From 2002-2007, the Chicago Bears paid the 3% on the value of their club and luxury priced tickets without accounting for the price of amenities, which are included in the price a ticketholder pays. When Cook County went on the offensive claiming the Bears came up short in their tax payment, the Bears responded that the other amenities that were included in the ticket price were separate “non-amusement services.” Thus, the amount paid for such amenities would not be taxable. The Bears claimed amenities such as parking, food, and beverages were separable and they didn’t constitute what the statute contemplated to be amusement services.
The Bears defense was relentless, though it proved no match for the high powered offensive attack of the Cook County Department of Revenue. In its opinion, the court agreed with Cook County and held that “it is impossible to separate these ‘other charges’ from the fee paid to enter the stadium.” Because the ticket buyers were required to pay this other fee, such value must be included in the amusement tax. The court thus ordered the Bears to pay Cook County $4.1 million plus interest to account for the underpaid taxes.
The Bears look to rebound from this loss tonight in their first preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field.