Details on soda tax explained at Chamber meeting

Soda tax saga: A Department of Revenue official recently spoke about the city’s new 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages, syrups and concentrates at the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce office. PHOTO: TINA GARCEAU

A city Department of Revenue official last week tried to fill in some of the blanks on the beverage tax for members of the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

Rebecca Lopez Kriss, a senior policy analyst, spoke about the city’s new 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages, syrups and concentrates at the business group’s office at 8025 Roosevelt Blvd.

The tax is on distributors, who have been passing it on to retailers, most of whom are passing it on to consumers. One exception is Giant. The supermarket, at 2550 Grant Ave., is absorbing the tax.

Kriss said the tax is expected to generate about $91 million a year.

The revenue will go to pre-kindergarten programs and other city initiatives.

One man complained that the new School District of Philadelphia pre-K programs will hurt day cares.

“They’re not getting put out of business,” Kriss said.

Kriss said some of the money will be used for parks, recreation centers and libraries.

Items taxed include soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, iced tea, fruit punch, sweetened water and iced coffee. Items not taxed include orange juice, tomato juice, apple cider and milk.

City officials want young people to consume nutritious drinks.

“We want kids to drink milk, even if it’s chocolate. We’ll take it,” Kriss said.

One woman, though, noted that Crystal Light is taxed. A Lexington Park resident, she plans to do all her shopping outside the city.

Kriss said the fine for any retail business not abiding by the tax is $1,000 per transaction.

“The enforcement is very real,” she said.

Kriss directed people to visit phillybevtax.com for more information. ••