STUMP » Articles » Cook County Soda Tax: Somebody Please Make It Stop » 13 August 2017, 15:47

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Cook County Soda Tax: Somebody Please Make It Stop  


13 August 2017, 15:47

There may be hope…



Commissioners from both parties are supporting a repeal effort of the sweetened beverage tax following widespread public outcry.

Several Cook County commissioners have filed an ordinance to repeal the county’s new tax on sweetened beverages.

The ordinance was filed by county Commissioner Sean Morrison, R-Palos Park, and co-sponsored by county Commissioner Richard Boykin, D-Oak Park, county Commissioner John A. Fritchey, D-Chicago, county Commissioner Timothy Schneider, R-Bartlett, and county Commissioner Jeffrey R. Tobolski, D-McCook.

Citing the sweetened beverage tax’s mass unpopularity and implementation problems, Morrison says the ordinance would allow the County Board to reconsider its position.

“A lot of the commissioners we feel may be in a different position on how they’re going to look at this tax, especially now that we’ve seen it enacted,” Morrison told CBS 2 Chicago. “There has just been a public outcry.”

Oh, that should be good.

On the same day the repeal ordinance was filed, Boykin announced he would file an ordinance that would attempt to curb the board president’s power in filing lawsuits, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Ooooooh. Yeah, Preckwinkle withdrew asking for damages in the other case, as mentioned in my last soda tax post. But this would undercut her.


Obviously, Cook County is not the first to the soda tax trough. Philadelphia implemented one a year ago.

How has it turned out?

Soda Tax Experiment Failing in Philadelphia Amid Consumer Angst and Revenue Shortfalls:

Key Findings

Philadelphia’s beverage excise tax is 1.5 cents per ounce, which is 24 times the Pennsylvania excise tax rate on beer.

The high tax rate on nonalcoholic beverages makes them more expensive than beer in some cases. Prior research on soda taxes suggests they are likely to drive consumers to more alcoholic beverage consumption.

Philadelphia’s beverage tax applies to diet beverages, despite those beverages having no impact on caloric intake.

Beverage tax collections were originally promoted as a vehicle to raise funds for prekindergarten education, but in practice Philadelphia awards just 49 percent of the soda tax revenues to local pre-K programs.

Soda tax revenues are likely below expectations due to consumer mobility. Some soda consumers may drive out of town to buy groceries, rather than pay the higher taxes.

Poor revenue performance of Philadelphia’s beverage tax threatens the sustainability of the programs it funds.

As many have commented, they’re not even trying to hide that this isn’t about taxing the fatties — it’s about taxing an item they think is ubiquitous and thus will get them loads of $$.

Soda Tax Revenues Lag from Higher Prices, Fewer Purchases, Tax Avoidance

The city estimated beverage tax revenues of nearly $410 million over the next five years, or roughly $92 million annually.8 Philadelphia set a fiscal year 2017 collection goal of half that amount, $46 million, since collections began in January and the 2017 fiscal year ended June 30.9

A June news release by the Office of the Controller noted that none of the monthly collections have met the $7.7 million per month target needed to meet the original 2017 estimate.
Thus, in June, local officials opted to lower the 2017 beverage tax revenue estimate from $46 million to $39.7 million. [12] As Figure 1 shows, collections did not even meet that amount, reaching a total of $39,466,920 throughout the entirety of fiscal year 2017, 15 percent below original expectations.

And it didn’t.

Reminds me of the tax on tea, long long ago. The Brits thought that Americans couldn’t give up their tea.

Also, this sounds familiar – as I noted in my last post, the Cook County soda tax is higher than its beer tax. Same for Philly.

Also, Philly had a 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax. Cook County’s tax is 1-cent-per-ounce, so it’s less than the Philly soda tax. Still higher than its beer tax, though.



Certain provisions of Cook County’s penny-per-ounce soda tax could cost Illinois more than $86 million in federal administrative funding.

An error in implementing Cook County’s wildly unpopular penny-per-ounce sweetened beverage tax could cost the state millions in federal aid.

Although federal law requires drinks purchased through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, commonly known as food stamps, to be exempt from the county’s new penny-per-ounce sweetened beverage tax, the county’s ordinance does not adhere to federal food stamp regulations, according to state officials.

A retailer selling sweetened beverages to a customer with food stamps may comply with the tax in one of three ways, according to Cook County. Retailers can include the tax in the selling price of the beverage, add the tax at the point of sale, or POS, or by modifying their POS systems to not charge for the tax when food stamps pay for the transaction. If retailers choose one of the former two options, they are obligated to refund the customer with food stamps the amount of tax paid.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Services, or FNS, which runs SNAP, deems these logistics illegal because FNS does not permit food stamp users to be charged with a sales tax at any point in the sale.
If the error continues, Dimas says FNS will work to suspend administrative funds to Illinois, worth $86.8 million last fiscal year.

There is not enough popcorn in the world for this battle.

Podcast on the Fed threat


Let’s dump the soda tax links!

On that last item:

Patricia Eberle and Gail Bedessem don’t live in Barrington, but they are thinking about shopping there more often now that the penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages went into effect in Cook County.

With borders spilt between Cook and Lake counties, Barrington makes for an easy destination to avoid paying the controversial sales tax, meant to help shore up Cook County’s finances, since many retailers in the village lie in Lake County, which isn’t affected by the new tax, both Bedessem and Eberle said.

Bedessem, who lives in Palatine, and Eberle, who lives in South Barrington, which also is in Cook County, both said while pushing shopping carts Thursday down the aisle at the Jewel grocery store in downtown Barrington that they would rather travel farther to Barrington than deal with the uncertainty that comes with the penny-per-ounce tax.

“I’m stocking up on Coke for an event,” Bedessem said. “It’s just as easy to drive here and not pay this stupid tax.”

So a thought: people get into habits and patterns. When you have a change like this, it might not be a huge cost in their overall budget, but it can kick people into developing new patterns and habits.

They’re unlikely to just go to Lake County to get Coke and not pick up other stuff. So Cook County would be out both the sales tax and the soda tax.


Yeah, that’s more a Noo Yawk thing, but whatcha gonna do bout it?

That’s right.

Going to see if this whole convo will get copied over:

If not, I will note this specific tweet in the middle of the back-and-forth:

Yup. It comes back to pensions. I will get back to that in a post later today. Was the soda tax sold on funding pensions?

Why was this [soda tax] implemented?

The Cook County Board of Commissioners approved the tax in November to help close a budget deficit of nearly $174.3 million, a shortfall that could result in destabilizing cuts to county services. Board President Toni Preckwinkle has also promoted the health benefits of the initiative, with the ordinance detailing the adverse effects of sugar intake and the consumption of sweetened beverages, including an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, tooth decay and more

So, they’re desperate for money … and they want people to drink less soda, which would mean less soda tax revenue.

It’s not quite consistent there. We’ve seen this with cigarette taxes, too.

And they claim the tax will bring in $200 million/year… well, that was the original estimate. What with the lawsuits, etc., I guess we’ll see what will actually happen.

By the way, there is a tweep that is about nothing other than the Cook County Soda Tax:

Good luck, guys!


Speaking of tweets…

There’s no escaping that taxman. (It’s probably a bottle deposit… no, wait, this is Chicago. It’s probably a nonrefundable tax.)


Howdy to whoever got here via DuckDuckGo — I hear that and Bing are becoming more popular as search options.

And howdy to my students-to-be coming through here via my UConn page. Don’t worry, I won’t test any of y’all on this site’s contents.

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