Judge’s Soda Tax Decision Postponed Until Friday

(CBS) — It’s going to be at least one more day before we know the fate of Cook County’s controversial penny-an-ounce tax on sweetened beverages.

Attorneys representing county government and, on the other side, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association returned to court and presented oral arguments before Circuit Judge Daniel Kubasiak.

The judge said he would weigh both sides overnight.

Retailers hope to stop the tax from taking effect, as scheduled, on Saturday.

Their attorneys say once collected, there is no way to refund the tax, and that opens them to expensive class-action lawsuits.

They also argued merchants need more time to get their cash registers and accounting systems changed.

On the other side, the county argued that its budget anticipates $17 million in revenues from the new tax to keep the doors open. Some 2,600 employees will have to be laid off if a stay is granted, the county’s attorneys said.

Judge Kubasiak asked attorneys why the target is sugar and sweeteners if the reason for imposing it is improved health. He asked why similar taxes were not imposed on foods that are salty or fatty.

The county’s attorneys could not answer.

The judge says he’ll rule on whether to grant the temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction Friday afternoon.

 

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