By Pat Loeb


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia’s controversial sweetened beverage tax went before a seven-judge Commonwealth Court panel in Pittsburgh this morning.

The soda industry raised several objections to the tax’s legality, but arguments centered on one: that the tax violates a state law that says the same item cannot be taxed twice.

Attorney Shanin Specter puts it this way: “Philadelphia lacks the power to tax soft drinks because the state already taxes soft drinks.”

His side says the tax being placed on distributors is subterfuge, but attorney Mark Aronchick, arguing for the city, says not at all, and the tax is on a business transaction, not a sale.

“Distribution is a big business and the state isn’t taxing those transactions and the state could if they wanted to.”

The court called the case interesting, difficult and well-argued but gave no indication as to how or when it would rule.