Chicago I love you, but you’re breaking my heart. As of yesterday, the city instituted a so-called “cloud tax.” Also called an “amusement tax,” it seeks to collect up to 9% of monthly subscription prices from subscribers of “electronically delivered amusements” such as Netflix and Spotify.
What the actual?
Having lived in Chicagoland the majority of my life, I know the joint runs its books like a crooked Laundromat. But this is going too far. “The amusement tax applies to charges paid for the privilege to witness, view or participate in an amusement.”
I’m amused by “witnessing, viewing or participating” a great number of things. Bird watching can be amusing. Ice-skating can be amusing. Seeing people trip in public can be amusing for sure. So as I read it, this new law opens the door for me to be charged if I see someone trip and fall into a fountain while they’re texting. Which is hilarious but not worth a call from the taxman.
Another quote from the law reads, “This includes not only charges paid for the privilege to witness, view or participate in amusements in person but also charges paid for the privilege to witness, view or participate in amusements that are delivered electronically.”
So I wonder, could I could be taxed twice for viewing the same event both live and electronically? Can I get dinged twice if I watch that poor sucker nosedive into the fountain live – then again on YouTube? What about views on meerkat or Periscope? And who pays? The publisher? Ay Caramba this whole thing is a terrible idea.
The new taxes are scheduled to bring in around $12mm of new revenue annually. Even if I didn’t believe this new law was the dumbest thing since unsliced bread, I don’t know how a $12mm influx of cash can justify making your city look like a techno-challenged, backwater shanty town. It’s the freaking foie gras law all over again. Chicago I love you, but your breaking my heart, and if I still lived there, my wallet.
Check out this article from The Verge for a more in-depth look at what the lucky ducks at City Hall are up to.