Last week the Cook County Commission began collecting a penny-per-ounce tax on thousands of beverages that has residents outraged and businesses worried about their bottom lines. In an editorial about the fallout in Cook County, The Oklahoman lays out why beverage taxes are an unreliable source of revenue that harms small businesses and hard-working families.
The Oklahoman editorial board says that beverage taxes are “mostly feel-good measures that provide policymakers a way to avoid making tough budgetary decisions.” This is certainly true for Cook County, which imposed the tax to address a large budget deficit.
But as politicians are finding out, these taxes are an unreliable source of revenue as residents shop elsewhere to avoid the tax. As the editorial board points out, a beverage tax in Philadelphia came in $7 million short of projections for the first six months of the tax.
Like Philadelphians, Cook County residents are also shopping outside county lines to avoid that tax. The editorial referred to a Chicago Tribune article which reported stores just across the Cook County line are stocking up in anticipation of the new customers from Cook County. “One-hundred percent certain, because of taxes, we expect the sales of pop to increase,” one store owner told the Tribune.
When will politicians learn that the hardworking families and small businesses deserve better? There are better ways to fix budget deficits than on the backs of working families and businesses.