The Philadelphia City Council Committee of the Whole has backed a 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax on sugar-added and artificially sweetened soft drinks, a measure that the council anticipates will raise $91 million over the next year. If approved by final vote as expected, the tax will “fund quality pre-K expansion, community schools, reinvestment in parks and recreation centers, and help pad the City’s General Fund,” according to a June 8, 2016, press release.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D) initially proposed a 3-cents-per- ounce levy on sugar sweetened beverages, but the council concluded that such an increase would raise more revenue than needed. Instead, the committee opted to reduce the tax to 1.5 cents per ounce while expanding the scope to include diet soft drinks. The council also advanced a bill “offering tax credits to merchants that opt to sell healthy beverages in their stores.”
“A 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax increase on soft drinks will have a smaller negative impact on businesses and consumers; be more widely spread among consumers at both ends of the income spectrum; raise the funds necessary to make historic reinvestments in our young people and public spaces; and protect the City from uncertainty by increasing the General Fund balance,” said Third District Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell. See The New York Times and NPR, June 9, 2016.