STUMP » Articles » Sunday Dumpery: Yes, It's The Soda Tax - What's It To You? » 20 August 2017, 17:14

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Sunday Dumpery: Yes, It's The Soda Tax - What's It To You?  

by

20 August 2017, 17:14

Man, it’s like I’m addicted or something. Maybe they really should implement a soda-tax-blogging tax.

Sounds like they may need such a tax given how sales are going —

Cook County retailers report beverage sales decline

As the owner of three Food Market La Chiquita stores in Cook County, Martin Sandoval has watched his usual number of sales dip over the last two weeks, a result of the county’s beverage tax.

“It’s just beginning,” Sandoval said. “People don’t realize how much the tax costs them until they get home and they look at the receipt. Then they decide not to come back, and I know that’s just going to increase.”

Sandoval said his beverage sales have dropped 10 to 15 percent since the county’s sweetened beverage tax, which takes aim at sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened drinks, went into effect on Aug. 2.

His chain of stores isn’t the only one seeing their sales go down the drain.

Sandoval, Tony’s Finer Foods and Lupe Jimenez own 21 stores in the county between them. As part of the Illinois Food Retailers Association, the three retailers provided data on their sales to the Can the Tax Coalition. The coalition receives funding from the American Beverage Association.

David Goldenberg, a spokesperson for Can the Tax, said the declining sales were predicted by residents and retailers long before the tax went into effect and “no one is surprised” by the numbers.

Curious if the estimated take was based on the extremely-foreseeable sales drop.

ANOTHER LAWSUIT

Soda tax lawsuit alleges Jewel wrongfully taxed consumers paying with food stamps

The parent of Jewel-Osco was sued Friday for allegedly applying Cook County’s new sweetened-beverage tax to purchases made with federal food stamps, transactions that are supposed to be exempt from the penny-per-ounce tax.

Annie Morales and Antonia Morales sued Albertsons in Cook County Circuit Court, alleging that on Sunday they bought lemonade through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and were charged the tax.

Each of the four bottles of lemonade they bought is subject to a Cook County sweetened beverage tax of 67 cents, for a total tax of $2.68, but because they paid for the lemonade with food stamps, they shouldn’t have been charged the sweetened beverage tax, the lawsuit says.

Snafus related to the sweetened beverage tax and food stamps might become less common in the future.

They might become less common if the tax goes away entirely.

SODA TAX TWEETS


Well you can, if you don’t mind looking like an idiot.


(yes, I know that’s not the “real” Pat Quinn)





















DO-OVER FOR THE COUNTY?

So, it’s always fun to check the tweets, but let’s see an editorial.

Editorial: A chance for a do-over on Cook County’s soda tax

We have a question for the members of the Cook County Board who voted for the new penny-an-ounce tax on sweetened beverages.

Are you having second thoughts?

We hope so.

It would be hard — irresponsible, even — not to entertain doubts about the wisdom of that vote. Many things have come into focus since board President Toni Preckwinkle broke that 8-8 tie last November.

The Illinois Department of Revenue has settled the question of whether the tax can be applied to purchases made with food stamps. The answer is no. That means 872,000 people are exempt from the tax. That’s 872,000 people whose consumption of sugary beverages is beyond your overreaching grasp; 872,000 people who won’t be contributing to the $224 million you were counting on collecting next year.

When you voted for the tax, you thought you could hide it from consumers by instructing retailers to include it in the shelf price of the drinks. But the Department of Revenue says you can’t do that, either. It would require merchants to charge sales tax on top of the soda tax — an illegal double taxation. The tax has to be added at the point of sale.

Adding it at the checkout means the tax appears as a separate line item on the receipt. Uh oh. Customers who buy a two-liter bottle of pop for $1, for example, can easily see the 68 cents — 68 percent — that your colossal surcharge adds to their purchase.

Imagine the unspoken profanities that explode in the mind of a consumer who inspects the receipt after a weekly grocery run to find that the county tax on beverages rivals or even exceeds the sales tax on everything in the shopping cart.

Those double-takes also call attention to the other taxes itemized on the receipt, including the cumulative 10.25 percent sales tax.

These frequent reminders do not endear you to voters.

Nor do the obvious contradictions: If the aim of the tax is to reduce obesity, diabetes and heart disease, why tax Diet Coke but not chocolate milk? Sweet tea in a can but not sweet tea mixed to order? Beverages but not candy bars? How dumb do you think voters are?

Why did you ask that?

I mean, these voters keep voting in these clowns, and they know it. They’re pretty dang sure the voters are dumb.

Well, right up to the point the voters don’t re-elect them.

The good news is that you have a chance for a do-over. Five of your fellow commissioners, all of whom voted against the tax the first time, are pushing an ordinance to repeal it. Voters will be watching closely when that measure comes up next month.

In the meantime, 45 state lawmakers have signed onto two nearly identical bills that would prohibit county governments from taxing sweetened beverages based on volume sold. Either bill, if passed, would wipe out Cook County’s tax retroactively.

We appreciate their motive, but we’re not crazy about the idea of state lawmakers pre-empting home rule to correct the excesses of local spendthrifts.

That’s what elections are for.

And 2018 is just around the corner.

2018 is when the Cook County positions will be up for re-election. I assume these people are professional politicians and would rather want to keep their jobs.

I could be wrong. After all, Daley left when he realized the fun money was going away. Maybe they’ll realize, with this soda tax failure, that they’ve hit rock bottom for extracting more money out of taxpayers, and maybe they should get more lucrative gigs.

But by all means, keep this up til 2018. It’s easy blog fodder, to be sure.


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