Will the ‘Rahm Tax' Make a Comeback?

Remember the luxury services tax Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed during his campaign?

His opponents blasted the idea, calling it the "Rahm tax," but Emanuel touted it as a win-win for businesses and shoppers who pay one of the highest sales taxes in the country.

Well, Emanuel may be bringing back the concept after a report released this week by Chicago's inspector general included it among 63 ways to save the city money and boost revenue. The idea, according to the report, could yield $450 million a year.

Emanuel said during his campaign he wants to reduce Chicago's portion of the sales tax to 1 percent while expanding the tax to some services not covered. He said the service tax would include "luxury goods" such as limo rides, pet grooming and other services.

That was a sticking point for his opponents, especially Gery Chico, who even showed up at a North Side dog grooming salon in February to prove the tax attacks working families.

But Emanuel stood firm on the idea. His office that day wrote, "even the dog knows it's wrong to give tax preferences for mango-scented doggy facials but not for single moms struggling to buy school supplies."

Emanuel has a big job ahead of him in delivering what he aims to be a balanced Chicago budget.

Still, the mayor recently turned down the inspector general's suggestions to create new taxes, including a tax on nonresidents who work in the city, to balance the budget. He also axed the idea of charging a toll on Lake Shore Drive.

But he agreed with others included in the rundown and said he still wants more.

The so-called "Rahm tax" hasn't been discussed since Emanuel entered into office, and the Illinois General Assembly would need to vote on any change. 

Contact Us