Springfield, IL …. State Representative Michael P. McAuliffe (R-Chicago) has joined his colleagues in co-sponsoring crucial legislation that would guard taxpayers from lawsuits instigated by government bodies in response to lawful challenges of a tax. House Bill 4080, filed earlier this week, gained traction in response to the lawsuit filed by the Cook County Board President against the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA).
Earlier this summer, IRMA was successfully able to obtain a stay on the sweetened beverage tax spearheaded by the Cook County Board President. The tax, which was intended to begin on July 1st, was delayed pending a legal review. After that period ended, a retaliatory lawsuit was filed by the Board President against IRMA seeking the alleged $17 million in lost revenue.
“It is a sad day when a leader of a government body files a vengeful lawsuit against taxpayers with their own tax dollars. Citizens of our country are protected with certain freedoms that allow them to challenge government action. The thought of an official bringing forth a lawsuit in retaliation to a taxpayer or citizen group because they exercised their rights is unimaginable,” stated Rep. McAuliffe.
Although the lawsuit against IRMA has been since withdrawn, McAuliffe believes that House Bill 4080 is necessary to protect against future, comparable lawsuits:
“The citizens of Illinois need to be assured that their government works for them. It is important that they feel empowered to challenge controversial taxes or measures and not feel threatened with retaliatory action.”
House Bill 4080 specifically addresses the government’s ability to file lawsuit seeking monetary reimbursement in response to a temporary restraining order or injunction on a legal challenge to a tax.