Consumers and lawmakers in five cities recently voted to join Berkeley, CA and Philadelphia in taxing soft drinks (see our June 17, 2016, blog entry for more information on Philadelphia’s tax).

  • On Nov. 7, 2016, voters in San Francisco, Oakland and Albany, CA; and in Boulder, CO passed measures to tax nonalcoholic beverages with caloric sweeteners. In Boulder, distributers will be taxed 2-cents-per-ounce, while California cities will impose a one-cent-per-ounce tax. Marketwatch reported that a one-cent-per-ounce tax could translate to increased prices to the consumer of 20% or more if fully passed along. The tax votes passed with 62% of the vote in San Francisco, 61% in Oakland, 71% in Albany and 54% in Boulder, CO.
  • On Nov. 10, 2016, the Cook County Board of Commissioners voted to impose a one-cent-per-ounce tax on sodas. Cook County is home to Chicago and its suburbs and is the largest jurisdiction to impose a soft drink tax. Unlike the other soda taxes, Cook County’s will include beverages containing artificial sweeteners. The tax is scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2017.
  • While proponents of the taxes cite efforts to reduce obesity and other health benefits associated with soft drink taxes (see our October 12, 2016, blog entry, WHO Report Supports Effectiveness of Sugary Food and Drink Taxes), jurisdictions are also looking at soft drink taxes as revenue generators. For example, Cook County estimates that its new soda tax will raise $221 million annually, enough to bridge it current budget gap. In a statement on the new tax, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said that the tax would put the county “on a stable financial footing for the next three fiscal years during which we will not have to approve any additional tax increases and allow us to double our investment in community-based anti-violence initiatives.” It is likely that other U.S. jurisdictions will now pursue similar legislation.