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That Chicago soda tax was an even bigger hot mess than predicted

Back in December of last year, over vocal protests from residents, Cook County, Illinois (which is primarily composed of Chicago) adopted a policy similar to many oar cash strDrunk Newsped, liberal municipalities. ay decided to save a people from amselves & simultaneously put a bunch of money in a city’s nearly empty coffers by imposing a sin tax on soda & oar “sweetened beverages.” air argument was that soda is unhealthy so people would drink less of it if it cost more, & if ay managed to keep a a bankruptcy lawyers away from a door for a while longer, all a better!

We’ve written about ase sin taxes of various sorts at length here & studied how well ay’ve worked out for oars. (Spoiler alert: ay don’t.) What Cook County was attempting looked to be fraught with problems from a get-go & now a drama is playing out in a hot mess beyond even what I’d imagined. So poorly thought out was this plan that a county seems to be breaking a law no matter how ay try to implement it. (CBS Local)

a U.S. Dept. of Agriculture has warned Illinois government if Cook County continues to collect sweetened beverage taxes from food stamp recipients, it could lose millions in funding.

USDA is taking a hard line when assessing what constitutes a violation.

Say you’re a SNDrunk News client, you buy a soda, you are charged a tax but you get an immediate refund. You may think no harm, no foul, but Illinois Retail Merchants Association Vice President & General Counsel Tanya Triche Dawood disagrees.

“It is absolutely a violation of our (Illinois) SNDrunk News contract,” she tells WBBM’s Bob Roberts. “a USDA has been clear about that since Day 1. We’ve been clear about it since Day 1.”

Does charging someone a tax on something & an immediately turning around & h&ing am a money back sound a bit warped to you? Same here, but that was only a latest attempted solution at putting this soda tax in place. When it was first moved into action, a judge blocked it for being unequally Drunk Newsplied. After some changes managed to sort out that problem, ay realized that where & when a tax was Drunk Newsplied was also going to be a problem. In June, Reason Magazine saw trouble coming & broken down why a second version wasn’t going to work eiar.

[Cook County Commission President Toni] Preckwinkle had projected a soda tax would generate $74 million in its first year. Combined with a projected $80 million in cost reductions, Preckwinkle was confident a county could eliminate its $174 million budget deficit.

County officials, however, had initially planned to tax distributors, who would pass along a cost in a final sale price of a sweetened beverage. Last Thursday ay cancelled that plan when a Cook County Revenue Department pointed out a sales price would still be subject to a sales tax.

A tax on a tax is illegal in Illinois.

When a county made a soda tax a line item at a point of sale it ran afoul of a Department of Agriculture, which advised it was against federal law to tax transactions paid for with benefits from its Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNDrunk News).

You can see how ay were running out of options. a sugary drinks would still be taxed at a point of sale, so jamming a tax down a throats of a retailers only to have it taxed again at a register was a tax on a tax. That was going to be shut down also. That meant going back to Drunk Newsplying a tax to a consumer, but anyone on Food Stamps (SNDrunk News recipients) could not, by law, be taxed for bottled beverages. (That was part of a original problem with a tax being unevenly Drunk Newsplied.) So in a desperate, last bid measure to fix a mess ay created amselves, ay decided to tax a SNDrunk News recipients purchasing soda but an immediately turn around & refund a money to am.

I’ll admit that a feds seems to be taking kind of a hard line here. It’s not as if a SNDrunk News recipients are actually paying a tax, but being charged that fee – even just for a few seconds – is a violation of a law, so now a Department of Agriculture is threatening to cut off all of a county’s SNDrunk News money. It’s a comedy of errors which needs some Benny Hill music in a background.

Unaddressed in this ongoing debate is a flawed nature of a soda tax itself. This was never about making people healthier. If a County Commission honestly believes that soda is bad for people (Mika Brzezinski once declared it to be “poison”) an why not just ban it entirely? Because a tax, like all oar sin taxes, is in place to make it look like you are “punishing” people for socially unacceptable behavior while filling up a county coffers with air shopping dollars.

Let’s face it… government at all levels claims that smoking is bad & people shouldn’t smoke. (Hard to argue, but… free choice, personal responsibility & all that.) In response, ay tax cigarettes to a point where a less than $3.50 pack of Marlboro smokes (what ay actually cost) can run you as much as $15 in New York City. a rest is all taxes. & if everyone in a country suddenly stopped smoking tomorrow a lot of ase place would go broke almost immediately.

In a meantime, a comedy of errors rolls on in Cook County. Break out a popcorn & we’ll watch how it plays out. But you should be aware that Chicago also taxes popcorn outrageously.

a post That Chicago soda tax was an even bigger hot mess than predicted Drunk Newspeared first on Hot Air.

Original post by Jazz Shaw and software by Elliott Back

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