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Taxing Sugary Drinks in Philadelphia

March 8, 2010

Soon-to-be-more expensive soda

For those that don’t know, the City of Philadelphia is in need of some serious cash.  Lower-than-expected tax revenues and increased expenses (such as with snow removal) has led to a budget shortfall.  So, one of the potential proposed remedies, along with a trash pickup fee, is a soda tax.

What’s a soda tax?  For our purposes, it’s a tax of two cents per ounce of sugary drinks.  It may not sound like much, but if it were applied, a 75 cent 12 ounce can of soda now becomes 99 cents.  That two liter bottle now costs about 68 cents more in city tax alone.  A six pack of 12 ounce cans is now $1.44 more.

Needless to say, this proposed measure, which is expected to raise about $77 million a year, has not generated a positive reaction.  Still, it’s becoming part of the growing trend of taxing “sins.”  Last year, there was a proposed federal tax on soft drinks that was defeated.  Subsequently,  about twelve states including California and New York have proposed alterations to how soda is taxed.  Chicago now taxes soda by three percent.  The reasoning is supposedly based in health: New York justifies the tax proposal by noting the public health crisis of obesity and how sugared beverages contribute to obesity.   I’m sure the potential $465 million it could raise was an afterthought.

Still, the soda tax seems more likely than not to come to fruition.  Now, if it’s the difference that prevents closed libraries and shut down city services, then I’m all for it.  Then again, I haven’t had any soda in sixteen years, so maybe I just am not as affected.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. elizabeth mc guffin permalink
    March 8, 2010 3:00 pm

    Maybe the mayor should stop drumming up unneccesary jobs that pay over three figures to a position that didn’t exist prior. I don’t see any city vechiles or perks being given up by the mayor or council. The people better wake up and get out of the city before they stsrt taxing you for being allowed to live in the city because that’s a privilage to and isn’t healthy either.

  2. March 9, 2010 8:51 pm

    Although I do drink sodas, I am in favor of taxing sugary drinks for the same reasons given by NY. Perhaps this will encourage more people to drink better-for-you drinks while helping us lead healthier lives (e.g., cut down on obesity and diabetes).

  3. John E. permalink
    March 9, 2010 8:59 pm

    Another issue is how the law is applied. Does the sugar tax apply to things like fruit punch or iced tea containing sugar? Are diet sodas exempt? The more picky and choosy it is, the less in favor the public will be. The last couple days has seen a few articles in the paper and online about the relationship between a sugar tax and health.

  4. Christopher Butz permalink
    March 9, 2010 9:02 pm

    Smoking and Obesity are the top two preventable contributors to mortality in the United States. The obesity epidemic is caused by an excess of carbohydrates. Soft drinks are the #1 source of added sugar (that is, High Fructose Corn Syrup) in the American diet.

    Taxation and education has effectively reduced consumption of cigarettes. Why wouldn’t we want to do the same with a product that does nothing but make Americans fatter?

    And it generates much needed revenue for the city. Forgive me, but I don’t see a downside.

  5. March 12, 2010 12:56 am

    Its a really good idea in spirit when you think how toxic sodas are – loaded with sugar and caffeine and contributing to diabetes and obesity.

    Many people drink six sodas a day. Like smoking.

    But the tax may disproportionately affect low-income people.

  6. July 15, 2010 8:49 am

    Another issue is how the law is applied. Does the sugar tax apply to things like fruit punch or iced tea containing sugar? Are diet sodas exempt? The more picky and choosy it is, the less in favor the public will be. The last couple days has seen a few articles in the paper and online about the relationship between a sugar tax and health.
    thanks
    killing games

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