Tax sodas? Or, don't let them eat cake.

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/home_top_stories/20100304_Nutter_proposes_2-cent-per-ounce_sweet-drink_tax.html has this:

“Mayor Nutter [of Philadelphia] wants to treat the city’s weight and wallet problems in his 2010-11 budget with the same remedy: the nation’s highest tax on all sweetened beverages including soda, energy drinks, ice tea, even chocolate milk.  . . .

“The tax rate would be 2 cents per ounce, 40 cents on a 20-ounce bottle of soda. The levy would cover fountain-drink syrups and powders, based on the number of liquid ounces they produce. Diet drinks without added sugar and baby formula would be excluded.

“City officials said they could raise $77 million a year.”

COMMENT:

I’m quick to say let’s tax sodas. And donuts and candy bars. (A friend says I make Marie Antoinette look compassionate: “Don’t let them eat cake.”)

A soda tax would be regressive, but maybe not so regressive as the payroll tax.

Diet sodas are trickier. I have a hunch that it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature, and that diet sodas, like margarine with its transfats, will turn out to be bad for you. And “some studies suggest that drinking soda of any type leads to obesity and other health problems.” http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/diet-soda/AN01732

Setting up vending machines, some of which sell not just sweet and diet sodas but also water, to have two different prices, opponents will say, is just more than they can handle.  Sometimes I can’t get my computer to work, but I don’t think that programming task is beyond corporate America.

But I’m nervous about caffeinated cola drinks and that Tea Party in Boston Harbour, as we might still spell it if the British hadn’t overtaxed. Was it just the high-handedness of the British, or was there some problem with folks needing caffeine?

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Author: patoglesby

From 1982 to 1990, I worked in tax policy for Committees of the United States Congress. In recent years, I was Adjunct Lecturer at UNC-Chapel Hill's Business School and then Adjunct Professor at its Law School.

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