Monday, July 3, 2017

‘Pop tax’ on hold, yet people still panic

I couldn’t help but be amused when I was at a Jewel-Osco supermarket on Saturday, and not because of Jo-Jo the mascot or the other costumed characters who were present.
Waiting to see if tax takes effect July 13

But I happened to be present because I wanted to buy a container of lemonade, which is among the beverages that qualify to be taxed under Cook County’s new sweetened beverage tax.

THE PRICE TAG indicated that the lemonade was on sale, but also that the dollar amount on the tag did not reflect the additional $0.01 per ounce that is being charged to raise money for county government to fulfill its financial obligations.

One of those saying that the additional tax would be “added at checkout.”

Of course, nothing was added when I made my purchase on Saturday, but only because of the circuit judge who issued a temporary restraining order to prevent the new tax from taking effect on Saturday.

So no more tax monies will be collected, at least through July 12, when a court hearing is scheduled to hear legal arguments on the merits of the injunction. A permanent ban on the tax could be issued at that time.

THE POP TAX has become one of those things that gets people worked up. How dare the government think they can do anything to boost the price of a bottle of pop or whatever other sweetened beverage (such as my lemonade) that we might want to buy?!?

The activists are trying to make this into some sort of moral crusade. They have turned to the courts to try to prevent the Cook County Board from imposing the pop tax it approved late last year, with provisions that it take effect as of July 1.

Which is why the retailers such as Jewel made a point of warning people about the potential charge. My guess is they don’t want any customer to claim they were somehow tricked into paying more money for their beverages.
PRECKWINKLE: Cook needs pop tax monies

Just like I have heard some complain about the fee that retailers in Chicago now charge if one chooses to ask for a plastic bag to store their purchases in when they leave the store. It’s only $0.07 per bag, but I’m sure some people are going to argue about the “principle” of the issue.

ALTHOUGH IT’S NOT just city-based retailers addressing the issue. It seems that some of the larger supermarket chains that operate just across the Illinois/Indiana state line are already publishing advertising inserts advising people they ought to make a trip to their Hoosier-based stores so as to avoid paying the Cook County tax.

Some activists are trying to use those inserts as evidence of how Chicago-area businesses will lose out because of the tax – those businesses just outside of Cook County will prey on Chicago customers like leeches to suck up their money while depriving our own businesses of revenue.

I’ve heard figures as high as “40 percent” being tossed out – as in that’s how much pop sales could decline in Chicago and the Cook County suburbs. That could be a financial blow.

Except that I wonder how many people are going to want to make a lengthy drive to buy cheap pop. There may be those people who live near the border areas who will make the trip to the “next town over” to save a little money.

THEN AGAIN, THEY’RE probably the same people who make a point of making the same trip to get cheaper gasoline for their car or will feel the need to head out to the Land of Hoosiers for a dose of firecrackers and other explosives so as to terrorize the neighborhood little ol’ ladies and pets with the “rockets’ red glare” come Tuesday and Independence Day.

So we may have some people freaking out about the price of pop going up, while others will go out of their way to show just how minimal the cost increase will be. While we spend the next week-and-a-half in a lull, waiting to see whether the county’s pop tax will be permitted to exist.

Although personally, a part of me wonders if pop is something along the lines of cigarettes – another product that officials try to tax so as to raise revenue while also possibly persuading people to lessen their consumption.

Which might be for the best. Because personally, while I enjoy a Coca-Cola from time to time, I find that too much of it gives me gas.


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