Tuesday, May 4, 2010

DC Soda Tax Proposal

American sodaImage by poolie via Flickr
It is no secret that I am no fan of taxes.  It seems more and more, they find ways to tax us or add fees to things.  More and more states and municipalities are looking at adding taxes on sodas as a way to "fight the growing epidemic of obesity."  In reality, most of the time they are little more than ploys to line the government coffers were more revenue, as if they are spending their existing funds wisely.

The DC City Council is the latest to propose a tax on sodas in order to raise money for a "healthier school lunches program."  Here is an idea, buy healthier food for the school lunches and hire people who can prepare the food so that it is edible, but I digress. Most soda taxes nationally average in the 5-7% on the dollar range.  A bit of an inconvenience, but not overly onerous or punitive.  The DC proposal is to have a penny tax on every ounce of soda. 

To put a penny per ounce into perspective, I normally buy a 12 pack of 12 ounce cans.  (I should add that I usually only buy diet sodas, which I believe would not be part of the tax)  The most I will pay for a 12 pack of soda, is around $4.  A penny an ounce tax would amount to $1.44 per 12 pack or a tax of 36%.  Now we are talking a highly punitive, not to mention, highly regressive tax.

I am a big believer in personal responsibility.  I believe in education and making an informed decision, whether it be drinking sugared soft drinks, alcohol, or smoking cigarettes.  If after all of that, you choose to part take in an activity that can shorten your lifespan whether through getting fat or cancer, then you have reaped what you have sown.  It is not the place of the government to make those decisions for me.
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  1. D.C. Council Member Mary Cheh’s proposed beverage tax would include much more then just soda. Cheh’s proposal would target all sugary beverages. Sport drinks, juices, iced tea, lemonade, if it has sugar, Cheh wants to tax it. This would lead to confusion as baristas attempt to calculate the tax of a large black coffee with two sugars. It would be the 1993 snack food tax fiasco all over again.

    The dividing line between low-income and outright poverty is a string of coins. Low-income families shop for food by looking at price tags, not the USDA food pyramid. Regressive taxation not only stretches the food budget, but could wreak devastation on the whole family economy. It isn’t the president of Pepsi that will join the unemployment line, but the delivery driver, the convenience store clerk and the hot dog vendor.

    My blog on the taxation of Washington, D.C. at

    Check out the No D.C. Beverage Tax to sign the petition

  2. thanks, I do realize that the proposal would be on any drink containing sugar, I used the 12 pack soda example since soda is the main focus of the attack.



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