Retailers Warn Against Possible Cook County Soda Tax

CHICAGO (CBS) — Retailers were speaking out Wednesday amid published reports Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is considering a new tax on sugary soft drinks, up to a penny an ounce.

Preckwinkle spokesman Frank Shuftan would not confirm she is looking at a soda tax to help plug a $174 million budget gap, but he said she already has warned this year’s budget will be extremely challenging, given rising costs and declining revenue.

Tanya Triche, vice president and general counsel for the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, said a soft drink tax would hurt families, after the county already increased the sales tax by a penny on the dollar last year, and added a 1 percent tax to hotel stays.

“Coming on the heels of the one percent increase in the sales tax during the last budget season, families have felt that every time that they go to the grocery store to get necessities and any other things that they want. So now we’re looking up and down the aisles and trying to figure out what else there is good to tax,” Triche said. “We don’t think that that is sound tax policy just to sort of choose a category of products for additional taxation, and certainly the consumers in Cook County are really going to feel the pain.”

Triche said consumers and business owners will reconsider how they’re spending money in Cook County.

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