Chicago Might Be Next To Try Tax On Sodas & Sugary Drinks

Image courtesy of Eric BEAUME

Days after the Whole Health Organization announced it supported taxes on sugary drinks in order to curb obesity, the largest county in Illinois is weighing that option — following in the footsteps of Berkeley, CA, and Philadelphia, where a similar tax is now subject to a beverage industry legal battle.

ABC 7 Chicago reports that the 2017 budget for Cook County — where Chicago is located — includes a plan for a sugary beverage tax.

Much like the pending Philadelphia tax, the Cook County “sweetened beverage tax” proposal bases the amount of the tax on the size of the beverage being sold. In this case, the county would get $.01 per ounce. Supporters of the tax say it would bring in $75 million per year for the county.

The tax would not apply to water, different kinds of milk, and baby formula.

Funds derived from the tax would be used by the county to close a growing budget gap, avoiding the need to cut public health and safety services, ABC 7 Chicago reports.

Of course, the possible tax was not welcomed kindly by the Illinois Beverage Association, which believes the tax would become a burden on residents. For example, the IBA calculated that a two-liter bottle of soda priced at $0.99 would cost an additional $.68 cents with the tax.

This approach, say critics, penalizes people for trying to save money by purchasing in bulk or generic products.

“Now is not the time for Illinois families to endure a tax on their groceries,” Claudia Rodriguez, IBA Acting Executive Director, said in the statement. “Enough is enough. Nearly 90,000 jobs in restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, movie theaters and more rely on the industry – all of which could be hurt by a proposed tax.”

Opinions of residents in the county have varied so far, ABC 7 Chicago reports, with some residents feeling the tax is too high, while others believe it could help reduce obesity and overall health of the communities. The locals will have their chance to voice opinions at one of the several public hearings on the proposed tax.

Cook County Board Considers Tax On Sugary Drinks [ABC 7 Chicago]

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