Yesterday, we blogged about a number of legislative accomplishments, as well as new initiatives that the beverage industry launched in 2010. Today, we think it is important to share with our readers that, notwithstanding continued leadership from our member companies, some lawmakers and public health advocates want to single out our products for discriminatory taxation. And while tax threats existed in 23 states and cities during 2010, voters and lawmakers across the country are overwhelmingly rejecting these taxes.
Washington State 2010: 60 percent of Washington voters acted to repeal a discriminatory tax on carbonated soft drinks, bottled water, candy and other grocery items. This is a strong repudiation of the Legislature’s decision by residents of Washington who also rejected other measures that would have raised their taxes.
New York 2009 & 2010: The Governor proposed a sizeable new tax on sugar-sweetened beverages each of the last two years. Both times the tax proposal died without reaching a vote in the Legislature because of strong opposition by New Yorkers.
California 2010: Voters approved this fall Proposition 26, which requires the Legislature to garner a two-thirds majority vote in order to pass a fee. Again, the public showed its disdain for being nickel-and-dimed with more taxes.
Congress 2009: Efforts by some lawmakers to pass a federal excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages to help pay for health care reform died before ever becoming a formal proposal because of strong opposition by Americans across the country.
Maine 2008: The people of Maine voted by a 64-36 margin to repeal a large tax increase on sugar-sweetened beverages passed by its Legislature. Maine voters repealed the tax while also voting for President Obama at the top of the ticket in 2008.
Americans are sending a consistent, resounding message against these discriminatory beverage taxes, making it clear that they are able to make their own decisions about what to eat or drink without government help. A tax on common grocery items like beverages is regressive and disproportionately hurts the most those who can least afford it.