McLean County Times

McLean County Times

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Local libraries could get 'their piece of that pie' with bill for a new tax on cannabis sales


By Glenn Minnis | Feb 5, 2020

Illinois state Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur)

A new bill that would see local libraries vying for tax proceeds deriving from recreational marijuana sales has convinced state House Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) that there are no limits to how far some will go to cash in on this year's legalization of cannabis in Illinois.

“Taxing bodies are always looking for any source of revenue they can get, period,” Caulkins told the Macon Reporter. “There must be some sort of loophole that allows these libraries to [gain from] taxes on the products, and that’s the name of the game. Yeah, taxes in Illinois are already extraordinarily high, but if there is something else a taxing body can go after and attach itself to, they will without hesitation.”

Sponsored by state Rep. Dan Didech (D-Buffalo Grove), House Bill 4135 paves the way for the state’s more than 600 libraries to impose a 1-percent tax on recreational cannabis sales in their jurisdictions. Didech told the Center Square the idea for the tax recently came to him after he had a talk with a local library official looking to get their “piece of that pie.”

Illinois state Rep. Dan Didech (D-Buffalo Grove)

As high as 41 percent across some parts of the state, Illinois’ combined tax rate for recreational marijuana is already among the steepest in the country. While Didech claims the bill could ultimately help reduce property taxes, Caulkins worries that the cost for even something as critical as that may be too high.

“Already, the product is so heavily taxed that it could start to make illegal cannabis a lot more financially attractive for a lot of people,” Caulkins said. “It’s sort of like gambling and the bill proposed for the casino in Chicago. First the bill was passed to allow taxes and other fees, and then as time went by, the cost of doing business on the project became so rich in taxes that now nobody wants to have a part in building one.”

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