Sweetened beverage tax goes into effect on Wednesday


After a monthlong delay, Cook County’s sweetened beverage tax goes into effect on Wednesday. The tax adds an extra penny-per-ounce tax to sugar-sweetened beverages, which includes everything from sodas to sweetened iced teas.

Here’s what you should know:

• How much more you pay depends on the store because some businesses could choose to add the tax into their selling price. A 24-pack of Coca-Cola is priced at $23.01 from S and K Wholesale, LLC, a company that sells to Walmart online, has 288 fluid ounces. That pack will cost an additional $2.88 due to the tax alone. A 2-liter of the same soda, which has about 68 ounces, would add an additional $0.68 to the drink.

• Some of the beverages that are not taxed include 100 percent natural fruit or vegetable juices. Drinks that have milk listed first or that are more than 50 percent milk, soy or other milk substitute also won’t incur the extra penny-per-ounce rate.

• Ensure, Pedialyte and PediaSure among others will not be taxed because they’re classified as beverages for medical use, therapeutic nutritional meal replacement or for weight reduction as a meal replacement.

• Children’s lemonade and Kool-Aid stands are safe. Drink powders and syrups, like those commonly used to make the summertime beverages, as well as Gatorade and Crystal Light mixes aren’t taxed.

• A commonly cited example of the lines between taxed and untaxed is the Frappuccino. If the drink is made by a barista, there’s no additional tax, but a bottled Frappuccino will be taxed. That being said, drinks that customers can add a sweetener to, or request a retailer add to, will not be taxed.

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association filed an appeal on Tuesday after Circuit Court of Cook County Judge Daniel Kubasiak dismissed their case on July 28.

The retailers are appealing whether the judge used the correct standards in granting the county’s motion to dismiss.

The group of merchants filed a lawsuit days before the sweetened beverage tax was initially supposed to go into effect, stating that the tax was unconstitutionally vague and violated the uniformity clause of the Illinois Constitution.

“We have filed a notice to appeal the decision on the sweetened beverage tax to protect retailers and consumers against this tax whose rules and regulations have continuously evolved throughout this process,” said Robb Karr, president and CEO of the association.

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