The D.C. City Council met today to approve the city budget. Just last week, the City Council tabled the notion to impose a discriminatory and regressive excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. But today, beverages, including no- and low-calorie ones, were back on the table.
In fact, The Washington Post reported that City Council Chairman Vincent Gray proposed an alternative suggestion to the district’s budget woes: removing the sales tax exemption on beverages that contain both "natural and artificial" sweeteners. Currently, the District exempts grocery items from sales tax.
Given the weakened economy, an unemployment rate at more than 10 percent and the understanding that residents will travel outside the district to purchase their groceries, it's disappointing to hear about any new taxes. While we commend the City Council for rejecting a stand-alone tax on beverages, there's no mistaking that expanding the sales tax to beverages will hit families and businesses with additional taxes at a time when they need it least.