Judge rejects lawsuit against Philadelphia soda tax

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Monday, December 19, 2016
Beverages are displayed at a demonstration against a proposed sugary drinks tax Wednesday, May 4, 2016, outside City Hall in Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A judge has dismissed a lawsuit aimed at blocking the soda tax set to take effect in Philadelphia next month.

Common Pleas Court Judge Gary Glazer on Monday rejected in its entirety the suit filed by the American Beverage Association and others.

Lawyers for the beverage industry previously said they would appeal such a ruling to the state Supreme Court. They argued that the tax duplicates the state sales tax already imposed on soda and unfairly taxes drinks based on their size, not price.

The 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax amounts to 18 cents on a 12-ounce can of soda or $1.44 on a six-pack of 16-ounce bottles. Two cities have soda or soft drink taxes but more than 30 cities and states have rejected them.

In response to the ruling, City Solicitor Sozi Pedro Tulante issued a statement, which reads: "We greatly appreciate the thorough and timely consideration that Judge Glazer gave to this matter. The Judge upheld the key points of our argument: the Philadelphia Beverage Tax cannot be considered a sales tax, and neither does it violate the uniformity clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution."

Mayor Jim Kenney also released a statement, saying: "Today is much more than a simple vindication of the legal principles on which the tax is based. It is victory for Philadelphians, who have waited far too long for investment in their education system and in their neighborhoods. I urge the soda industry to accept the Judge's ruling and do the right thing for the children of Philadelphia, many of whom struggle in the chilling grip of pervasive poverty. The industry has chosen not to challenge beverage taxes in other municipalities and there is no reason to continue pursuing it here. Regardless of their decision, the City will not stop pursuing what those kids need most - quality pre-K, Community Schools, and better parks, libraries and rec centers."


Information from The Associated press was used in this post.