Mark: This is where the RTA says an illegal tax haven exists

We first became aware of this potential story in February when our curiosity was aroused by a line item in an otherwise boring Metra procurement report.

It listed the awarding of a $200 million diesel fuel contract to the Hartney Fuel Oil Co. in Mark, Ill.

Two questions came to mind: First, we know from years of living in Chicago that Hartney’s offices are located on Harlem Ave. in southwest suburban Forest View, not far from the Stevenson Expressway.

Second, where the heck is Mark, Ill.?

More recently officials at the Regional Transportation Authority started complaining that there was legislation advancing in Springfield that would widen a loophole allowing businesses to open remote sales offices outside the Chicago metro area, and benefit from lower taxes.

An investigation of records determined that a little-reported ruling by a judge in Putnam County, where Mark is located, allowed Hartney to prevail in a tax fight against the Illinois Department of Revenue.

That ruling meant millions for Hartney and potentially millions in lost revenue for Cook County governments. 

-- Richard Wronski and Jon Hilkevitch

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