The Jussie Smollett effect: Illinois seeking tax penalty for actor's future employers

Illinois State Rep. Michael McAuliffe, a Republican, wants to impose legislation that would punish any film company that does business with “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett.

Under the bill, any television or movie production company that employs the actor would forfeit tax credits awarded by the state.

“A lot of valuable Chicago Police Department (CPD) man hours and resources were wasted chasing down a bogus crime arranged by Smollett,” Rep. McAuliffe said. “Hate crimes are serious and so is the time and effort of the CPD. He has cost Chicago a lot more than a $10,000 bond. Smollett should not be able to get anything more from the City of Chicago or Illinois.” 

According to McAuliffe’s office, Illinois offers a 30 percent Film Tax Credit, with the prospect of an additional bonus of 15 percent on labor expenditures in high-poverty areas.

Smollett was written out of “Empire,” which films in Chicago – a city represented by McAuliffe.


Smollett was indicted earlier this months on 16 felony counts for allegedly staging a hate crime against himself. He pleaded not guilty to all counts.

The charges were dropped on Tuesday, angering local politicians and prosecutors as many questions remain unanswered. He forfeited $10,000 in bond money.

Chicago officials sent a letter to Smollett this week, ordering him to repay $130,000 to cover the cost of the investigation into his report.