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European-style soda taxes make inroads

€7.50 for a coke?

Are 7 Euro cokes coming to America?

Maybe the reason they don’t have free refills in Europe is because of the punitive taxes many European governments levy on refreshing soft drinks. If that is the case, then we have reason to be worried.

A recent article on Slate.com argued that although proposals to tax coke seem to have stalled at the national level, they are catching on quickly in our nation’s state legislative chambers. The latest state to increase taxes on soda and candy is Illinois. Since the beginning of the month, consumers in the Prairie State have had to fork over an extra 5-6 percent in taxes on every delicious soda or candy bar they consume.

Fittingly, the state that brought us Rod Blagojevich did not impose these new lifestyle taxes through an open and public manner. Rather, the Illinois Department of Revenue simply issued new rules redefining soft drinks, certain juices and some candies as “General Merchandise,” boosting the tax rate on these items from one to 6.25 percent.

While the new tax rate is still well below the 14.9 percent tax surcharge that France slaps on sodas and candies or the 17.5 percent tax the UK levies on such goods, it is nevertheless a dramatic increase from the one percent tax consumers in the Land of Lincoln used to pay.

Is Illinois’ new soda tax high enough to make people thinner? New research from George Mason University suggests it isn’t. But since the new tax applies to fountain drinks as well as bottled beverages, it just might be high enough to end free refills as we know them.

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5 Comments

  1. Jake says:

    The biggest news here is that you can get 50cl of beer for the same price as 50cl of Coke… which are you gonna choose?

  2. nowooski says:

    In Europe, you’d always choose the beer. God knows they aren’t going to give you a free refill on that 7 Euro coke.

  3. […] Never mind that soda accounts for just five percent of the calories the average American consumes, or that mixed greens are possibly a bigger health risk. The food police detest soda (they drink guava juice and herbal tea) and were eager to jump at any opportunity to tax it. So last year they mobilized, focusing their efforts first at the national level, and then at the state level. […]

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