Soda Tax - An Idea That Keeps Bubbling Along

By Brian Greer on Thu, Feb 08, 2018 @ 03:05 PM

Topics: sales tax news

Whether you are a member of the Pepsi generation or are in the mood for a can of the "Real Thing," it's going to cost you more in some major American cities.  These municipalities have enacted a "soda tax," adding one to two cents per ounce to the cost of a variety of drinks in order to discourage people from drinking high calorie beverages.  Here is the list of places that do not want to make it easy for you to "Do the Dew": 

  • Berkeley, California
  • Albany, California
  • Oakland, California
  • San Francisco, California
  • Chicago/Cook County, Illinois
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Boulder, Colorado
  • Seattle, Washington

The sales tax is actually aimed at more than soda.  It targets any drink with a high sugar content, which includes sports energy drinks and fruit punch.  The proponents of the tax make no secret of the fact that their goal is social engineering.  The idea is to discourage people from drinking beverages full of sugar -- artificial or real -- to reduce levels of obesity, diabetes, and similar illnesses.

Although these soda taxes are relatively new, two things are already clear.  First, the tax, while seemingly small, adds up fast.  The 12-pack you buy for your next party is going to cost you two dollars more simply because of the tax.  Need a case of Gatorade in Seattle?  One that cost $15.99 on December 31, 2017, now costs $26.33, 64 percent more.  Secondly, the tax has disproportionately affected many poor people who don't have cars and/or can't afford to drive over the city line to buy soft drinks in a neighboring county that doesn't impose the tax.  On the other hand, those that have the means simply buy their soda elsewhere, not only defeating the purpose of the tax but causing problems in their own communities by spending money farther from home and thus driving down demand (and sales) in their own neighborhoods.  Whatever the solution to making Americans healthier might be, it's far from clear that taxing sugary drinks should be part of the mix.

Brian Greer

Written by Brian Greer