STUMP » Articles » Monday Sweetness: OF COURSE MORE SODA TAX » 28 August 2017, 22:33

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Monday Sweetness: OF COURSE MORE SODA TAX  


28 August 2017, 22:33

I think I need to sue Cook County politicians for getting me hooked on this junk.

Chicago-area soda tax may carry political price for backers

When a local government leader passed the deciding vote on a penny-per-ounce soda tax, she said it would generate enough money to balance the county budget while making people in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs healthier.

But so far, the tax seems mostly to have created problems for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who until recently was so popular many considered her the only possible candidate who could unseat Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Opponents have filed lawsuits, a federal agency warned Illinois could lose millions in funding for food stamp benefits and store owners have complained of plummeting sales. There are signs angry residents could hold it against Preckwinkle and other pro-tax commissioners seeking re-election next year.

“It feels like every time you turn around they have their hand in your pocket,” said Jim Taylor of Chicago, who paid $2.56 in new taxes for two 128-ounce plastic jugs of diet iced tea at a grocery store west of the city. “It’s ridiculous. They should all go.”

Now billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who tried unsuccessfully to ban giant sodas as mayor of New York, is trying to sway public opinion in Preckwinkle’s favor. His super PAC started running TV and radio ads defending the tax as a way to reduce an “epidemic” of childhood obesity and other health conditions.


Cook County’s soda tax is a government failure at every level

It’s an unfortunate truth that many government bodies are poor architects when it comes to designing and executing new laws and policies. But few botched government initiatives can compare with the Cook County soda tax.

With the vow of making residents healthier while bringing in much-needed revenue to the cash-strapped county, Cook County’s soda tax specifies sugary drinks that it taxes at a penny an ounce.

But despite soda-haters’ and politicians’ high hopes, the tax jeopardized millions in federal food stamp aid dollars to the state, has resulted in multiple lawsuits against the county itself and private retail chains, and has caused a PR nightmare for the county that sold the tax as a health initiative but was later forced to admit it as a poorly designed tax grab.

How not to write a tax

The Cook County soda tax adds a penny an ounce for the “retail sale of all sweetened beverages in Cook County.” Seems simple enough, right?

But when the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA) filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Cook County’s soda tax, one of their main arguments was that it was so poorly written that it was hard for retail stores and customers to know what was taxed and how any problems or potential refunds of the tax would be settled.

The tax has myriad exclusions, including:

100% natural fruit/vegetable juice, syrup and powder with no added sweetener
Milk, soy, rice or similar milk substitutes that are the primary ingredient (more than 50%)
Unsweetened drinks to which a purchaser can add, or can request that a retailer add, sugar, at the point of sale
Infant formula
Beverages for medical use
Weight reduction/therapeutic nutritional meal replacements
Any syrup or powder that the consumer himself or herself combines with other ingredients to create a beverage

Also, some drinks that are made by a bartender or coffee barista are exempt from the tax while the same drink would be taxed if bought in a bottle or can. Starbucks Frappuccino in a bottle = taxed, Starbucks Frappuccino made by a barista = not taxed. Having so many exemptions and caveats to what is taxed and what is exempt has become a nightmare for restaurants and retail stores.

I’m sure it made sense to somebody, somehow.

I went to Burger King for lunch today, and as per usual, I got a non-sweetened drink — Dasani Sparkling (unflavored). I like bubble water, but I don’t like drinking sugar.

I got it from one of those new-fangled soda machines that has dozens of syrups to choose among. Huge selection of zero sugar/zero calorie drinks. Huge selection of regular soda, too.

Would I have been charged the tax just because my water had bubbles in it?


It’s my favorite twitter.


I guess that answers my question.

Well, it’s reducing purchasing soda in Cook County, that’s for sure.

Again, assuming that people actually drink less. And that that will have any effect on health.

Mmmm, get it while the getting’s good.

Portland, eh?

I assume the one in Oregon and not the one in Maine… or whereever.

Hey Preckwinkle et. al. Just keep holding out. I’m sure it’s just BIG SODA faking discontent. The peoples totally love the soda tax!

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