Friday, August 4, 2017

Cook: Somebody must pay pop tax

Cook County Board officials estimate that some $17 million in revenue was lost during the month of July – which is when the courts considered legal actions that challenged the legitimacy of the penny-per-ounce tax on pop and other sweetened beverages.
Must be vintage if bottle only a dime

So now that the courts have ruled that the pop tax has legal legitimacy, county officials are talking about forcing someone to cough up the amount of cash they were denied during July.

SPECIFICALLY, THE COUNTY has filed a lawsuit against the Illinois Retail Merchants Association – one of the groups that was supportive of the effort by anti-tax activists to challenge the legitimacy of a pop tax.

The one that was supposed to raise some $67.5 million through the rest of 2017, and another $200 million for the 2018 fiscal year that begins Dec. 1.

Money they insist is needed by the county if its budget is to come out balanced in the end.

So losing a month’s worth of revenue is a significant loss to the county, so much so that it wants to file the legal action that many see as purely punitive towards any group that would dare speak out against the county.

PERSONALLY, I DON’T expect the county ever will get any money from this lawsuit of theirs. I think it is more of an intimidation tactic.

As in when one considers that when a Cook County judge last week handed down the ruling that upheld the pop tax’ legitimacy, the retail merchants association made a point of saying it was “weighing our legal options,” then earlier this week filed their own appeal of Judge Daniel Kubasiak’s ruling.

One that was meant to get an appeals court to strike down the pop tax once again.
PRECKWINKLE: Willing to fight for pop tax

I suspect that when their appeals disappear, the county’s lawsuit against the association will also wither away.

SUCH TACTICS MAY be strong-arm tactics that border on intimidation – although to tell you the truth, it’s not like business-oriented groups such as the association aren’t capable of deploying their own collection of goons to try to intimidate government entities into going along with their demands.

But then again, I’m also waiting to see what becomes of the 300 or so county employees who were laid off from their jobs last month due to the financial shortfall caused by temporarily losing the county pop tax.

County officials weren’t exactly quick to say when those people would be restored to the payroll – which as far as I’m concerned is a sleazier move than any tax hike being imposed on people who just feel compelled to have their dose of a carbonated beverage as part of their daily sugar intake.

Perhaps this particular tax just doesn’t offend me much because it is for a product that we choose to enjoy, or can decide to do without. And realize that sentence was just written by someone who enjoys an occasional Coca-Cola. Although I also have been making my own effort during the past year to reduce the amount of pop I consume.

WE COULD CONTINUE to engage in a back-and-forth battle over the pop tax. Or maybe we could move on to issues of true significance instead of fighting over the resulting price increase.

Pop tax couldn't wind up here, could it?
Because the reality is that nothing costs the same as it used to. Everything is more expensive these days. Remember it wasn't long ago that gasoline cost less than $1 per gallon?!?

Yes, the idea of having to pay an extra 20 cents for that single-serve bottle of pop ($1.89 at a Walgreens, the last time I bought one) kind of stinks. It makes me think of when I was a young child some 45 years ago having to accompany my mother to a neighborhood laundromat and being allowed to buy myself a pop from the vending machine for about 20 cents.

As in the total price – not just the tax added on! I find that price hike much more offensive.


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