The Philadelphia Beverage Tax

Philadelphia has shown us just how much damage a beverage tax can do. Hard-working families and businesses are paying the price.

“The magnitude of this tax is historic and Philadelphian consumers can’t afford it.”- David McCorkle, CEO of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association

In January 2017, elected officials in Philadelphia implemented a 1.5 cent per ounce tax on hundreds of beverages against the wishes of the citizens. Some saw it as the “biggest test case” of beverage taxes. The test isn’t working out so well for Philadelphians.

A study from Oxford Economics underscores the devastating economic consequences of this tax. This policy passed by the mayor and city council has caused an employment decline of nearly 1,200 workers and $54 million less in labor income.

People are traveling outside Philadelphia to avoid the beverage tax and taking their grocery dollars with them. Beverage sales at Philadelphia supermarkets fell 24 percent and increased 14 percent outside city limits. Declining sales of non-beverage items also signal that consumers are shifting entire grocery buying trips outside the city to avoid the tax.

Recent polls show more than 60 percent of Philadelphians oppose this tax. Enough is enough. It’s time for city officials to overturn this tax for the good of working families and businesses.

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