Politicians who try and slap taxes on common grocery items quickly learn that people see these regressive taxes for what they are – a government money grab that will harm jobs, threaten local businesses, and raise grocery prices. In an article from watchdog.org, a Philadelphia-area distributor channels the feelings of most Philadelphians about the soda tax their City Council recently approved.
According to the article, the distributor characterized the tax as “regressive, and will end up hitting lower-income consumers the hardest.”
He’s right. Low-income families spend a larger portion of their income on groceries than more affluent ones. So a tax like the one passed in Philadelphia that will hit more than 1,000 products will force low income people to spend an even larger portion of their limited budgets at the grocery store.
On top of that, people with the means to do so will travel outside the city to do their grocery shopping and avoid the tax. This means the greatest burden of the tax will fall on lower-income people, who aren’t able to travel outside the city to do their shopping.
The distributor also raised concerns that any tax that reaches into the grocery cart is a slippery slope. “The broader liberty question, the businessman said, is how far will the ‘it’s-good-for-you’ crowd go,” reported watchdog.org.
For these reasons and many others, soda taxes have proven to be unpopular in Philadelphia, and all over the country. A poll taken the week of the Philadelphia City Council vote approving the tax revealed that nearly 60 percent of Philadelphians opposed the tax. Similar tax proposals have been rejected by the city twice before.
As watchdog.org points out, “Cities across the country, most notably New York, have tried to adopt similar sugary beverage taxes, only to ultimately fail. Often, citizens have fought back, arguing the taxes are a government overreach.” In fact, soda taxes have been rejected 43 times across the nation since 2008.
Here’s to hoping politicians listen to the voices of their constituents saying they don’t want these taxes.