DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE

BUREAU OF FINANCE

Zahra Ali, Revenue Director

312.603.5498

Zahra.Ali@cookcountyil.gov

Mission

To efficiently administer and equitably enforce compliance with Cook County Home Rule taxes while providing courteous and professional service to the public. To process Cook County fines, fees, and license applications in an accurate and timely manner.

Mandates

DOR administers Home Rule Taxes as enacted in various Articlesof Chapter 74 – Taxation, of the County Code of Ordinances. DOR enforcement isgoverned in part by the Uniform Penalties, Interest and Procedures Ordinance,Article III of Chapter 34 – Finance. Inaddition, DOR administers and enforces a portion of the administrative tasks inChapter 54 – Licenses, Permits and Miscellaneous Business Regulations.

Key Activities and Services

  • Conducts field investigations related to tobaccotax (cigarette stamps/ other tobacco products/ consumable products), gamblingtax, alcoholic beverage tax, and other various Cook County home rule taxordinances
  • Enforces debt & vehicle compliance throughvehicle code administration, general business license personnel, third partycollection agency processes, and local tax intercept services
  • Enforces all Home Rule Tax ordinances
  • Enforces Deadly Weapons Dealer ControlOrdinance, alarm systems, and off track betting
  • Enforces cable TV franchise and other revenueordinances (e.g. liquor license, UPIP)
  • Enforces real property and delinquent propertytax ledger; corrects errors and notifies County Treasurer; Compiles and updatesdelinquent property master list and scavenger sale list; maintains warrant bookaudit report, REDI file preparation, and no bid program
  • Liquor Control Commission

Discussion of 2017 Department and Program Outcomes 

The Cook County Department of Revenue’s Compliance program has helped enhance revenue in FY 2017 YTD (through August 2017). Total compliance-related dollars collected were approximately $10.1 million. This number will continue to grow as four months are still left in the fiscal year. Audits, delinquencies/deficiencies, voluntary disclosures, tax discovery cases, and bulk sale/transfer cases all contributed to compliance-related dollars.

The Department’s plan for higher audit contribution has been realized as a result of increased audit staff and compliance initiatives. YTD, nearly 600 audits and compliance reviews have been completed. This is a record number for the Department of Revenue. More than 99% of these cases have resulted in a finding.

Budget, Cost Analysis and 2018 Strategic Initiatives and Goals

Compliance & Investigations: The Department serves over 3,500 registered taxpayers and tens of thousands of individuals that remit taxes to the County for one-time transactions. In order to drive taxpayer compliance and increase revenues, the department has undertaken the task of building a fully functioning field audit, tax discovery and field investigation program. Staffing of these initiative is a key cost driver and has transformed the department from a voluntary payment acceptance organization to one actively pursuing unregistered and under-remitting taxpayers. In fiscal year 2017 alone, the department has completed in excess of 126 audits and collected over $10.1M in assessments. In addition to these direct collections, the County continues to receive additional revenue on a monthly basis for the newly discovered and registered taxpayers. The department has expanded our field investigations unit over the past few years to create an effective tool in combating the sale of illegal and unstamped cigarettes. Our investigators, along with a County Sheriff, conduct thousands of site visits each year and issue millions of dollars in fines related to possession and sale of unstamped packs each year. Through these efforts, we have been able to maintain revenue levels in a traditionally decreasing revenue stream.

Collections: Our cashiering and collections area processes and reconciles over $450M in transactions through a combination of a lockbox operation, our on-line payment center and our walk-up window. These payments are all processed through our modern electronic cashiering system and reconciled back to a number of departmental receivables and ledger systems in addition to the County Administrative Hearings database. The cost of both personnel and software support are key drivers in supporting the efficient and timely processing of these payments and the accurate posting to the appropriate accounts and departments. Taxpayer Communications: One essential part of the revenue collection process is the proper billing and notification of tax liabilities. The department is required to print and send tax returns and various payment invoices and collection follow-up notices for our Home Rule Taxes to approximately 75,000 individuals and businesses is a key cost driver. While the costs of paper, envelopes, printing and postage are a major expense for the department, they are a necessary part of revenue generation and collection. The department transitioned a portion of our taxes to electronic filing and automated payment processing in 2017 and that effort will continue for the remaining taxes in 2018.

  • Convert remaining Home Rule Taxes to electronic filing and payment by mid-2018 for additional cost savings. Potential taxpayer based affected is in excess of 80,000 users.
  • Conduct in excess of 10,000 inspections of County businesses to ensure compliance with our various Home Rule Taxes.
  • Conduct in excess of 200 field audits to ensure compliance with our various Home Rule Taxes.

Budget and Full Time Employee Data