After months of discussion, millions of dollars of lost tax revenue and hundreds of layoffs, the Cook County soda tax will finally be implemented on Wednesday, August 2, 2017.
The tax comes to a penny-per-ounce of sweetened beverages – a small change, but a plan proving confusing for both businesses and consumers alike.
This is thanks in part due to a lack of specific instructions on which drinks to tax.
According the legislation, the tax covers “soda and diet soda, ready-to-drink sweetened coffees and teas, sports and energy drinks and juice products that aren’t 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice, among other beverages.”
The ready-made drinks portion of the law is the most confusing part for local businesses; for example, the tax will be applied, to say, a Starbucks drink you get at 7-11, but not a sweetened coffee drink you purchase at an actual Starbucks.
Still not clear, but feel like grabbing a cocktail? Your gin and soda can be taxed, too, not to mention any other type of drink using a sweetened mixer.
Some good news, though: flavored water like LaCroix will not be taxed because it is not sweetened – a lone drink in this category, however.
The Daily Herald wrote further about the ambiguous prices with regard to restaurants offering free refills.
They used a McDonald’s as an example:
“Most McDonald’s locations allow customers to decide the amount of ice,” Jake Griffin wrote. “The fast-food chain also allows free refills to in-store customers, which would mean drive-through customers could be taxed at a higher rate than those who dine in and consume multiple untaxed glasses of soda.”
While this is confusing enough for consumers, businesses in Cook County suburbs bordering other counties are worried about loss of business, according to CBS.
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Winter is coming – for soda. Let us know if you encounter any issues with the tax.