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No Philly Grocery Tax - September 14, 2016

Grassroots Coalition Supports Legal Challenge to Unconstitutional and Regressive Tax

Contact: Larry Miller or Anthony Campisi
(215) 735-6760
LMiller@ceislermedia.com or Anthony@ceislermedia.com

The Philadelphians Against the Grocery Tax Coalition fully supports the lawsuit filed earlier today that asks the courts to strike down Philadelphia’s unconstitutional and regressive tax on beverages.

More than 30,000 Philadelphians, as well as 1,600 organizations and local businesses have joined the coalition to register their opposition to a regressive 1.5 cent per ounce tax that will hurt low-income families and the family-owned businesses which are the backbone of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods.

Local business owners expressed their support for this lawsuit because this tax will force them to dramatically increase prices on more than 1,000 types of beverages, sending people outside the city to do their shopping. The tax will raise prices on both sugar-sweetened beverages – like teas, juices, soft drinks and sports drinks – as well as low- and no-calorie and low- and no-sugar options like diet drinks.

Because of this tax, the price of a 12-pack of sports drinks will skyrocket nearly 50 percent, to $7.15. The price of a 2-liter will go up by $1.01.

The impact of the tax would be felt most intensely in low-income communities, where residents will not be able to shift their shopping to the suburbs to avoid this new tax.

“My family has worked hard to create an honest business that provides groceries in an under-served neighborhood,” said Dany Vinas, who owns a C-Town supermarket in North Philadelphia. “I’ll have to raise my prices. My customers will either stop shopping at my store or have to pay more for many popular products. That’s why it’s so important that we do whatever we can to keep this tax from going into effect.”

These sentiments are widely shared by Philadelphians. Nearly 60 percent of likely voters in a recent poll said they opposed a tax on beverages in Philadelphia.

Restaurants and corner stores located on the Philadelphia border are also concerned they will lose customers to less-expensive options in the suburbs.

“We stand fully behind this lawsuit,” said Gina DiSanto, President of the National Association of Theater Owners of Pennsylvania. “Movie theaters make most of our profits from concession stand sales. This tax will force theaters to raise their concession prices and make it more expensive for families to spend quality time together doing something they love.”

“We already pay high sales and business taxes. We can’t afford to pay anything more,” said Michele Recupido, general manager of Locust Rendezvous, a popular Center City bar. “Before the city puts up more obstacles in front of small businesses, it should do a better job collecting the hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid taxes that it’s already owed.”

At the same time, business organizations and individual Philadelphians decried 11th hour revelations on how the money raised by this tax would be spent. Tens of millions of dollars will be used for a variety of projects, like bolstering the city’s surplus, that were only disclosed in the days before the final vote on the tax.

“The taxpayers of Philadelphia never got the open and transparent process they deserved,” added Adam Xu, President of the Asian American Licensed Beverage Association, which represents hundreds of restaurants and corner stores throughout the city. “We support this effort because it will protect taxpayers and small businesses from an onerous and illegal tax.”

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The Philadelphians Against the Grocery Tax is a broad-based coalition of more than 30,000 concerned citizens and 1,600 businesses and community organizations opposing the mayor’s proposed new grocery tax. The coalition is taking a stand because over-taxed Philadelphians can’t afford to pay more at the grocery store.

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