Pennsylvania's high court to hear appeal of Philly sweetened drink tax

Beverages are displayed at a demonstration against a proposed sugary drinks tax Wednesday, May 4, 2016, outside City Hall in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Pennsylvania's highest court will hear an appeal in a lawsuit challenging Philadelphia's year-old tax on soda and other sweetened drinks by the industry and retailers.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a brief order Tuesday saying it would hear the appeal on whether the tax violates a 1932 law prohibiting Philadelphia from taxing a transaction or subject already taxed by the state.

A lower court upheld Philadelphia's 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages. That court's majority said the beverage tax doesn't duplicate the state sales tax because it is imposed on distributors and thus hits a different target.

The money from the tax is designed to help pay for prekindergarten, community schools and recreation centers.

If fully passed onto consumers, the tax is $1.44 on a six-pack of 16-ounce bottles.

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