How much is this beverage tax going to cost me?

UPDATE: City Council has taken an initial vote to implement a 1.5¢ per ounce grocery tax and now they’re planning to tax diet drinks too.

If it passes in the final vote and the mayor then signs it into law, hardworking Philadelphia families will be left paying this hefty tax.

This is how that 1.5¢ would break down at your local grocery store: A 12-pack of 12-ounce soda cans could cost an extra $2.16, a 2-liter (68-oz.) bottle of soda could set you back an extra $1.02 and a 10-pack of 6-oz. juice boxes could add 90¢ to your grocery bill.

Which beverages would be affected by this tax?

The proposal applies to any beverage with sugar as well as diet beverages – that could translate to more than a thousand beverages like sodas, juice drinks, diet drinks, energy drinks, some teas and sports drinks.

What’s the exact breakdown of the tax?

Under this proposal, beverages with sugar and diet beverages would be taxed at 1.5¢ an ounce starting January 1, 2017. That would drive prices way up – so whether you’re buying your weekly groceries, eating out with your family or grabbing a beverage at your local convenience store, you’d likely feel the impact of this tax.

Who’s going to pay for the tax?

Make no mistake, this is nothing more than a grocery tax. This tax would drastically impact small businesses and consumers, who would see a large spike in grocery prices.

Who will this really harm?

This regressive tax stands to hurt Philadelphia’s lower-income families and small businesses the most, burdening them with higher costs even though they are still struggling to emerge from the recession. It could also hurt retailers and restaurants, which are likely to lose sales and customers. It’s a slippery slope – this discriminatory tax is singling out beverages. Which grocery items are next?

Where is the money going?

The mayor said pre-K was the reason for a new tax. Now we know a good portion will go into the black hole of city government mismanagement. This regressive tax on Philadelphians was a scheme to compensate for poor management of city funds. Hardworking Philadelphia families and small businesses were left in the dark, and now they will be left paying Mayor Kenney’s hefty grocery tax.

What kind of impact would this tax have on beverage sales in Philadelphia?

Higher taxes will really increase the prices on groceries like soda, juice drinks, energy drinks, diet drinks, sports drinks and teas. This price spike would drive customers away from Philadelphia businesses – like corner stores and bodegas – into surrounding areas. This would be a big hit to grocery and convenience store owners and their employees.

Is this type of tax applied anywhere else?

Yes, the city of Berkeley, CA implemented a similar tax and subsequently saw an increase in red tape and bureaucracy, losing grocery revenue as working families chose to travel to neighboring cities for their beverage purchases.

Isn’t this a similar plan as proposed by Former Mayor Nutter?

It’s similar, but the proposed 1.5¢ per ounce hike could be even more detrimental. The current proposal is backed by City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, who – in his time as the NYC Health Commissioner – attempted to go as far as limiting soda sizes.

Ultimately, that was rejected and the New York Court of Appeals stated the City Board of Health “exceeded the scope of its regulatory authority.” Now he’s trying to bring this level of government control to Philadelphia too.

This is just the start – today it’s a grocery tax. Next we’ll be told what and how much we’re allowed to eat and drink.

What can I do to stop the grocery tax?

Make your voice heard! Call your City Council Member at (215) 647-9562 and tell them you won’t stand for this lack of transparency from your city government. Tell your friends and family about the impact of this proposed grocery tax, and encourage them to call too!


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