The Illinois General Assembly will not be moving forward with a bill that would have imposed a 5 percent luxury tax on fine jewelry purchases and time pieces over $20,000.
The bill, H.B. 451, by state Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago), was not called in the special sub-committee on Sales & Other Taxes. On March 13, it was referred back to Rules Committee. Typically, in the Illinois state legislature, when a bill is referred back to the Rules Committee after the deadline to get bills out of committee has lapsed, the proposed legislation is “dead” for this session.
Jewelers of America applauded the decision in a statement on Tuesday.
“This is an important victory for jewelers in the State of Illinois,” said Matthew A. Runci, JA president and chief executive officer. “It sends a powerful message that the jewelry industry will not tolerate unfair tax legislation.”
Jewelers of America targeted both members and non-members in an anti-luxury tax letter and fundraising campaign, reaching out to its state affiliate, the Illinois Jewelers Association, and the non-affiliated Chicago Jewelers Association.
The association provided jewelry businesses with sample letter-petitions and the addresses of Illinois State legislators, including the bill’s sponsor, members of the committees considering the proposal, and the state’s legislative leaders. Jewelers were urged to collect signatures from all of their employees to add to the letter-petitions, to underline the effect that a luxury tax could have on workers in the jewelry and watch industries.
JA is also targeted a similar luxury tax proposal in New York State’s budget bill (S00060). That proposal also calls for a 5 percent tax on jewelry and watches over $20,000.
JA hired a lobbyist in the state capital of Albany to advocate on the industry’s behalf and it continues to press legislators and Gov. David Paterson to drop the proposal from the final version of the budget. The New York State Jewelers Association is also galvanizing its membership to call or write their representatives.