PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Opponents of the Philadelphia beverage tax reacted as the 1.5 cent per ounce increase on the amount soda and other sugary drinks will cost inside the city emerged from City Council committee, claiming the majority of residents oppose the tax and will change their behavior to avoid it.
During an interview with Chris Stigall on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT, Jared Walczak, Policy Analyst for the Center for State Tax Policy at the Tax Foundation, said people are not going to buy as much sugary drinks following the passage of this bill.
“You’re going to have people shifting away from these beverages, either because they’re going to consume less of them or they’re going to engage in tax avoidance strategies buying outside the city. At $4.32 in taxes on a 24 pack case, there are going to be some people who find it rather convenient, especially is they live on the outer rim of the city to buy outside. We don’t know how many people will do that, but we do know that it will have an impact, that there will be fewer purchases. That’s going to change the revenue bottom line.”
Larry Ceisler, a spokesman for No Philly Grocery Tax, told Stigall that as this process has dragged on, more and more people turned against the idea of the additional tax.
“The more people found out about it, it was like peeling the onion, the uglier it got. I think last night was the culmination of it. What’s you had last night was, hey, not all the money is going to pre-k and then you know what, we’re going to tax diet soda too. In fact, we did a poll in March when this thing first came out and I can tell you that the majority of Philadelphians supported the tax because they wanted pre-K. We did a poll at the end of last week, now after everybody’s gotten all the information, and an overwhelming majority of Philadelphians oppose this tax.”
Walczak also disputed the claim that this will force people to make healthier choices.
“If you’re taking people who are drinking diet soda and pushing them into other untaxed things, maybe to get their sugar fix because some people are just looking for that sugar fix, you might actually have people consuming less healthy beverages or less healthy options because this tax is pushing them away from their diet soda choices.”
A final vote will be taken on the bill next week by the full Council before it is sent to Mayor Jim Kenney.