Emanuel to raise cable TV tax to balance budget

October 22, 2013

AP/file
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Cable TV customers could end up paying more as part of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to help balance a nearly $339 million budget deficit next year.

Emanuel’s administration hopes to bring in $9 million in 2014 by raising the city’s amusement tax by two percentage points on cable television providers, from four percent to six percent, according to mayoral spokeswoman Kelley Quinn.

Concertgoers and sports fans would see no change in the nine percent amusement tax tacked on to those ticket prices, or the 5 percent tax on mid-sized venues, Quinn said.

The city had granted cable television companies a five percent exemption from the amusement tax in order to let them compete against satellite TV providers, which aren’t subject to the tax. Emanuel wants to cut that exemption down to three percent, effectively hitting cable TV companies a two percent tax hike.

It’s unclear how much that might cost the average customer, Quinn said, if cable companies decide to pass on the cost to consumers.

About $2 million of the amusement tax money next year will go toward expanding the city’s “Night Out in the Park Program,” for which the city puts on concerts and screens movies in parks around Chicago.

Alex Keefe covers politics for WBEZ. Follow him @akeefe