Cook County’s Soda Tax To Begin Wednesday

CHICAGO (CBS) — Barring a last minute change, Cook County’s sweetened beverage tax will go into effect on Wednesday, which means it will cost a penny an ounce more.

A 2 liter bottle of pop, for example, will cost 67 cents.

Stores have less than 48-hours to reprogram their registers to collect the tax.

“We have to double check at the register that we are charging the right price too,” said Jorge Rivera, who works at La Chiquita Market in Little Village. “We’re doing our best.”

At La Chiquita, they’ve put the cost warning signs out to customers. Now, the general manager of the store, Martin Sandovol, is putting out a warning about business. He said the store could be down anywhere from 20 to 30 percent in sales.

“We’re afraid of maybe losing our jobs,” Rivera said.

Sandovol says if business slumps for three months, pink slips could follow for an estimated 50 workers.

Due to past legal delays in collecting the sweetened beverage tax, 300 employees were given layoff notifications — and some were let go.

Cook County says that number could potentially decrease.

A judge blocked the tax on June 30, one day before it was originally supposed to go into effect, after the Illinois Retail Merchants Association filed a lawsuit challenging the legality and constitutionality of the tax. The judge dismissed that lawsuit on Friday, allowing the county to put the tax into effect, which county officials said will happen Wednesday, barring the possibility IRMA files an appeal and receives another injunction.

The tax includes all sugary soft drinks, lemonades, teas, sports drinks, and sweetened powders and syrups used for fountain drinks in Cook County. It also would include drinks made with artificial sweeteners.

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