Tag Archives: Philadelphia City Council

Media Alert: Soda Tax

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Philly Passes Regressive Grocery Tax

Washington, DC – Philadelphia became the first major American city with a soda tax despite massive opposition to the regressive proposal. The City Council gave final approval to a 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax on sugary and diet beverages. Mayor Jim Kenney said the new tax “will help improve education.” However, in the eleventh-hour the Mayor’s office announced that less than half of the projected revenue will be earmarked for education. Instead, millions of taxpayer dollars will be used for special projects and to plug holes in the City’s General Fund. Mayor Kenney sold the tax as a means to fund pre-K. Instead, his false promise proves that the public cannot trust government to do what it says when it comes to targeted taxes.

Capitol Allies remains steadfast in its opposition to such regressive, discriminatory taxation.

Mayor Kenney and the City Council ignored 58 percent of Philadelphians who opposed the regressive, discriminatory tax. A tax that will hit over a thousand grocery items. Capitol Allies has offered commentary stating that the tax is clearly illegal, violating Article VIII, Section 1, of the Pennsylvania Constitution—or uniformity clause.

Capitol Allies and its partners will continue to offer analysis and commentary on the Philly tax so to better inform the public discussion as the anti-tax fight moves to the courts.

Media Contact: Jerry Rogers 202.302.9783 / jerry@capallies.com

Jerry Rogers is the founder of Capitol Allies, an independent, nonpartisan effort that promotes free enterprise, and he’s the co-host of  The LangerCast on the RELM Network.

Philly Soda Tax Unconstitutional

 

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The Philadelphia City Council is set to give final approval to a 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax increase for sugar-added and artificially sweetened soft drinks. A massive, regressive tax that will hurt Philly’s poorest residents.

Mayor Jim Kenney (D-Philadelphia) sold the tax by promising that the revenue will be used exclusively for “do-good” government programs, specifically a pre-kindergarten expansion. However, in an eleventh-hour bombshell the Mayor’s office informed the Council that less than half of the revenue will be earmarked for pre-K. Millions of dollars will be used to plug structural problems in the city’s budget.

Ronald D. Castille, a former chief justice of Pennsylvania, writes in Philly.Com that the Philadelphia Mayor and Council are pushing an unconstitutional soda tax:

“Mayor Kenney and City Council are in the process of violating the Pennsylvania Constitution” because “the proposed tax by the ounce is a thinly disguised sales tax.” The Mayor is trying “to claim that the tax is imposed on the distributor, not the consumer. The city implausibly believes the tax will not be passed on to the consumer.”  However, businesses ALWAYS pass the cost of all taxation onto their customers in the prices of the goods and services they sell.

This brings up Article VIII, Section 1, of the Pennsylvania Constitution. The uniformity clause states:

All taxes shall be uniform, upon the same class of subjects, within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax, and shall be collected under general laws.”

“The city says the distributor will bear the burden of this tax. But a distributor in Reading or Altoona, for instance, would not have a similar tax on the distribution of these beverages. Consumers in other counties do not have to pay a similar tax on these beverages.” The former chief justice is right – the Philly soda tax is a clear violation of the uniformity clause.

 

Is Philadelphia’s Soda Tax Legal?  

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The Philadelphia City Council approved a 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax increase for sugar-added and artificially sweetened soft drinks. A massive, regressive tax that will hurt Philly’s poorest residents.

Mayor Jim Kenney (D-Philadelphia) sold the tax by promising that the revenue will be used exclusively for “do-good” government programs, including a pre-kindergarten expansion. However, in an eleventh-hour bombshell the Mayor’s office informed the Council that the revenue from the new tax will be used to plug structural problems in the city’s budget.

Mayor Kenney pushed through a massive, regressive beverage tax on a false promise.

In the same legislative session, the City Council also advanced a plan that offers tax credits to merchants who sell “healthy” beverages in their stores. So the Council is hiking the taxes on sugar-added and artificially sweetened beverages yet offering tax credits for “healthy” beverages.

In Philadelphia, not all beverages are equal under the law. However, Article VIII, Section 1, of the Pennsylvania Constitution states:

All taxes shall be uniform, upon the same class of subjects, within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax, and shall be collected under general laws.”

The dictionary defines “uniformity” as “the quality or state of being the same.” Under these new proposals, will beverages be taxed uniformly in Philadelphia?

In the “same class of subjects,” Philly will reward tax credits to some beverages but punish other beverages with tax hikes. Is the City Council in violation of the Tax Uniformity Clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution?

A final vote on the “soda” tax is expected to take place on June 16. Let’s hope Council Members take a look at the Pennsylvania Constitution and a Webster’s dictionary before the final vote.

Update: Philly’s Mayor Kenney Pushes Regressive Tax on False Promise of Expanded Pre-K

On June 8, 2016 in Philadelphia, lawmakers took a crucial vote on an important issue for taxpayers, families, and consumers. The plan from Mayor Jim Kenney (D-Philadelphia) would have imposed a 3 cents-per-ounce tax on more than 1,000 beverages. However, at the eleventh-hour the Mayor dropped a bombshell: a tax at 1.5 cents-per-ounce but spread out to both sugary and diet beverages, and the tax revenue would go toward the city’s fund balance. The Mayor promised that the new tax would be dedicated to initiatives like expanded pre-K. Instead, he pushed through a massive, regressive grocery tax on a false promise.

Mayor Kenney’s expanded grocery tax is excessive and it will drive down wages and kill jobs. His tax targets the poor and robs resources from families living paycheck to paycheck.

Capitol Allies is a staunch opponent of arbitrary, regressive taxation.

Before the City Council took the vote, in an effort led by Capitol Allies, a broad coalition of taxpayer and free market groups sent this coalition letter to the Philadelphia City Council asking them to reject Mayor Kenney’s grocery tax.

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No Philly Grocery Tax

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More than a dozen national pro-growth, pro-job, free-market advocates have released a coalition letter asking the Philadelphia City Council to oppose Mayor Jim Kenney’s plan to impose a 3 cents-per-ounce tax on more than 1,000 beverages—the Philly Grocery Tax. The proposed Philadelphia-only tax will—as former Governor Ed Rendell made clear—unfairly hurt the city’s poorest residents while its wealthiest citizens will be able to avoid the tax altogether.

Media contact: Jerry Rogers 202.302.9783 / Jerry@capallies.com

Jerry Rogers is the founder of Capitol Allies, an independent, nonpartisan effort that promotes free enterprise, and he’s the co-host of  The LangerCast on the RELM Network.