For 2019, the sugar tax and other beverage regulations were the big story that wasn’t. Instead, the two-cent-per-ounce tax, cup-size limits for food service, labeling requirement, etc. will have to wait till at least the next legislative session. This will shift attention—and intense lobbying efforts—elsewhere, like the East Coast. This year, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont have also debated beverage taxes.
In Massachusetts, the proposed tax would have three tiers, with the sweetest beverages reaching a max tax of around 24 cents per can. The state’s previous governor, reports the New Boston Post, unsuccessfully pushed for a soda nearly every year of his term. Connecticut’s proposed tax of 1.5 cents per ounce did not make it into the latest tax package from the legislature. Taxes made little headway in other states. In Vermont, for example, more attention is being paid to healthcare reform proposals. (A quick history lesson: 65 percent of Maine voters vetoed alcohol and beverage taxes intended to support the state’s uninsured population.)
Washington D.C.’s city council is currently proposing a 1 percent tax on sweetened beverages. The tax is backed by the same councilmember who first proposed a tax back in 2010, when the council voted instead to apply the city’s existing sales tax to sodas, lifting a prior exemption. According to a DCist report, another 1 percent tax is already on the books but has not been collected. The net effect would thus be a new tax on sodas of 2 percent: Estimated revenue of $3.2 million would go to nutrition programs that have had their budgets pared back.
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