In the angry fall out of enacting the Cook County soda tax, proponents have been running rampant about it.
Most Chicagoan’s in Cook County say they don’t believe the advertisements that link the sweetened beverage tax to health concerns. In a We Ask American poll, 83 percent of those polled said they viewed the health related ads.
And nearly 88 percent said they believed commissioners voted for the tax for reasons that weren’t health-related and nearly 85 percent of the polls said they wanted the tax repealed.
Close to a month ago, an Illinois judge temporarily halted the implementation of Cook County’s sweetened beverage tax, which like most Chicago consumers, is also heavily opposed by Chicago retailers.
In a lawsuit against the Cook County Department of Revenue, Judge Daniel Kubasiak granted a temporary restraining order requested by the Illinois Retail Merchants Associations and several grocers. Their argument was the tax creates classifications between sweetened beverages that violets the uniformity clause of the Illinois Constitution and is unconstitutionally vague.
David Ruskin, a lawyer for the retailers, argued during a Thursday hearing that a restraining order was needed because there currently isn’t a system for refunds to occur should the tax eventually be found unconstitutional. Sisavanh Baker, Assistant State’s Attorney, told the judge that retailers lack standing in court since they are solely collecting the tax from consumers.
“This is a lawful tax,” says Baker, adding that if the tax is found unconstitutional, dollars collected can be refunded – which translates to there is no irreparable harm. Cook County officials have said the tax would bring in close to $200 million a year adding that the tax could potentially curb obesity, diabetes and other health problems commonly linked to sugary beverages.
The tax includes carbonated soft drinks, sweetened with sugar or a substitute like aspartame, sports drinks, and energy drinks. Fruit drinks, will also be taxed but 100 percent fruit juice will go untaxed. Confusing, right?
But if retailers don’t include it in the purchase they could be fined $1,000 for the first offense and upwards. This isn’t the first time Chicago has double-taxed its residents [i.e. the Amusement tax, the tampon tax, the entire CPS situation] but we are crossing our fingers it will be the last. If you feel strongly about removing the tax, take a moment to sign this petition.