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Estate of Carey v. Village of Stickney

OPINION FILED MARCH 12, 1979.

ESTATE OF THOMAS CAREY ET AL., PLAINTIFFS AND COUNTERDEFENDANTS-APPELLEES,

v.

THE VILLAGE OF STICKNEY, DEFENDANT AND COUNTERPLAINTIFF-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ARTHUR L. DUNNE, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE MCGLOON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied April 23, 1979.

Plaintiffs, Estate of Thomas Carey and Suburban Downs, Inc., filed suit for declaratory judgment, challenging an admission tax on racetracks levied by defendant Village of Stickney. The trial court granted plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment, concluding that the tax violated article VII, section 6(e)(2) of the Illinois Constitution. Defendant appeals, arguing that the tax was a valid exercise of taxing authority by a home-rule unit.

We reverse and remand.

On November 19, 1974, defendant Village of Stickney passed an ordinance levying a 10-cent admission tax upon persons, firms and corporations operating racetracks for racing purposes. The ordinance further provided that the burden of the tax could be passed on to the patrons of those events.

Plaintiffs, estate of Thomas Carey and Suburban Downs, Inc., are respectively engaged in the business of conducting horse and harness races at Hawthorne Racetrack, located in Stickney. Subsequent to the passage of the ordinance, plaintiffs conducted racing events and failed to pay the admission tax.

On March 31, 1975, plaintiffs filed a suit for declaratory judgment challenging the constitutionality of the ordinance. In their suit, plaintiffs only challenged the validity of the ordinance for 1975, since on January 1, 1976, the Illinois Horse Racing Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 8, par. 37-1 et seq.) went into effect. Under the terms of this act, municipalities may levy admission taxes such as the one involved in the present case. Consequently, plaintiffs have paid all admission taxes incurred since January 1, 1976.

The trial court subsequently granted a motion for summary judgment on plaintiffs' behalf and found the ordinance in violation of article VII, section 6(e) of the Illinois Constitution which provides:

"A home rule unit shall have only the power that the General Assembly may provide by law (1) to punish by imprisonment for more than six months or (2) to license for revenue or impose taxes upon or measured by income or earnings or upon occupations."

Defendant appeals. On appeal defendant argues that the admission tax is not a license for revenue or occupation tax proscribed by article VII, section 6(e)(2) of the Illinois Constitution, but rather, is a valid tax levy by a home-rule unit. We agree.

The ordinance adopted by defendant in the present case reads in relevant part:

"Chapter 18A — Race Tracks — Horse Racing — Admission Tax Section 18A.01 — Definitions. The terms `horse racing' and `horse race' as used in this Chapter shall include, but not be limited to, thoroughbred horse racing, quarter horse racing and harness racing.

The term `licensee' shall mean any person, firm or corporation licensed by the State of Illinois to operate a race track for horse racing purposes in the State of Illinois.

Section 18A.02 — Admission Tax. Any licensee operating a race track for horse racing purposes within the Village of Stickney shall pay to the Village the sum of TEN CENTS (10¢ ) for each person entering the grounds or enclosures of the licensee upon a ticket of admission. If tickets are issued for more than one day, then the said sum of TEN CENTS (10¢ ) shall be paid for each person using such ticket on each day that the same shall be used. Providing, however, that no charge shall be made on tickets of admission issued to and in the name of directors, officers, agents or employees of the licensee, or to owners, trainers, jockeys and their employees or to any person or persons entering the grounds or enclosure for the transaction of business in ...


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