Cook County move to recoup lost revenue from beverage tax called a bullying tactic
Cook County began an effort to go to court to try to recoup $17 million in tax revenue it says it lost because of a temporary restraining order of the county’s new beverage tax, a move Wirepoints founder Mark Glennon recently called a bullying tactic.
“The danger inherent in penalizing – or even trying to penalize – those who bring plausible constitutional claims in good faith should be obvious,” Glennon wrote on his website. “If Cook County sets a precedent, claimants will be frightened by the prospect of being liable for damages even though the damages result from legal due process.”
The so-called soda tax went into effect on Aug. 2 after the original lawsuit was dismissed on July 28. Before the restraining order was issued in that suit, the tax was set to begin on July 1. The county, which claimed it was denied $17 million in that time, followed with its own suit, which it later withdrew.
The Illinois Retail Merchants Association and other beverage sellers had filed the original lawsuit arguing that the beverage tax was unconstitutional, at least partly because of vague wording.
Glennon characterized the county's move to sue the group as a deterrence tactic to scare away future lawsuits and argued that the court would not have issued the restraining order if the original case didn’t have merit. He called for sanctions against the Cook County lawyers who brought the countersuit, which was later withdrawn, arguing that it in itself is frivolous and an attempt to intimidate future legal challenges.
“The best we can hope for is that the judge who rules on Cook County’s claim slams the door hard against it – unequivocally,” Glennon wrote before the county withdrew its suit. “That’s the precedent that needs to be set so lawyers for other taxing authorities know they’ll have no good faith basis for trying to copy Cook County.”