With the new “cloud tax”, the City of Chicago is perfecting the art of pissing off its citizens. The tax went into effect in July, but is actually an extension of the already existing ‘amusement tax’. Since 1986, Chicago has been taxing almost all forms of amusement i.e., sporting events, concerts, or basically any event not considered educational.

Now, the City of Chicago is taxing the “privilege” to consume “electronically delivered amusements”.

Chicago has a long history of shady practices, but taxing citizen’s Netflix and Hulu accounts is a new low. This is the first time a government agency has tried to tax the information that we receive via the internet, making the City of Chicago the “Sir Edmund Hillary of assholes”.

But this is not a surprise when you understand that Mayor Rahm Emanuel is behind it. After all, Chicago is the most corrupt municipality in the U.S. and corruption costs both the taxpayers and the government money. According to political experts Dick Simpson and Thomas Gradel, corruption in Illinois and Chicago costs at least $500 million each year.

Plausibly, the City of Chicago is taxing people’s privilege to amuse themselves electronically in order to fill financial gaps caused by corruption. Or maybe the city officials are just following a play out of George Washington Plunkitt’s book and taking an opportunity because they saw it. Regardless, it’s invasive and unnecessary.

The 9% tax is projected to bring in 12 million dollars a year in revenue. That may sound like a lot of money, but the proposed annual budget is 7.3 billion dollars. According to my calculations, the “cloud tax” accounts for 0.16% of the budget, hardly worth the backlash the city stands to face.

I suppose the question is: would residents rather pay a higher Spotify bill or deal with the results of more red light cameras? Either way, Chicago is going to get its money. The trend is easy to see:

Chicago politicians are notoriously corrupt. 

Corruption costs money for those that are not personally benefiting from it.

Thus, politicians create borderline corrupt solutions to solve the financial problems caused by said corruption.

Everyone living in the City of Chicago gets pissed off.

We all get drunk about it.

The city collects $2.68 in taxes per gallon of alcohol sold.

We all lay in bed, hungover, watching Netflix.

The city collects its 9% in taxes from Netflix.

We go to 7-11 to get a fountain drink because carbonation and sugar are great for hangovers.

The city collects a 9.5% sales tax and an additional 9% fountain drink syrup tax.

Rebellion ensues.

Okay, so maybe Chicago taxes haven’t driven citizens to the point of rebellion, but the city is pushing it with the “cloud tax’. Some argue that the tax is not legal under the Internet Tax Freedom Act, but that only applies to internet service, not streamed content. Technically, this tax is legal, but it is still going to be more trouble than it’s worth.

With Netflix stating that they plan to raise prices for Chicago residents, the debates are pointless. We can all be angry that we are getting taxed left and right, but if we continue to pay for these goods and services then the city will just create more taxes.

When we start boycotting goods and services that are unjustly taxed, the authorities will get the message – we have had enough. But who does that anymore? We are a complacent society and we love our goods and services just a little too much.

That is what makes all the bickering pointless; we don’t do anything about it. But I guess it’s put up or shut up, so I’m going to go cancel my Netflix account, right now.