House Republicans to introduce bill to overturn Cook County pop tax

on Aug15

15 August 2017 | 3:11 pm

Five Republican members of the Illinois House of Representatives plan to introduce a bill that would kill Cook County’s tax on sweetened beverages.

The members — Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago), Christine Winger (R-Bloomingdale), Peter Breen (R-Lombard), Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville), and Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) — plan to discuss the legislation at a news conference Tuesday morning at the Thompson Center.

House Bill 4082 would prevent any home rule county from imposing a tax on sweetened beverages based on volume sold. The bill applies to any county ordinance adopted on or before the effective date of the bill, which would repeal the existing Cook County ordinance.

The penny-per-ounce tax, which went into effect Aug. 2, has been a headache for some Cook County residents and businesses. On Aug. 7, a customer sued Walgreens for adding the tax onto his unsweetened beverages.

A day later, McDonald’s was accused in a suit of improperly applying the tax as part of the subtotal and, Aug. 9, a lawsuit filed against 7-Eleven stores alleges that the tax is applied to its oversized cups whether or not the drink in them is sweetened.

Toni Preckwinkle, county board president, has said that the tax would bring in much-needed revenue to help balance the county’s books.

The tax covers carbonated soft drinks (whether sweetened with sugar or a sugar substitute), sports drinks and energy drinks. Fruit drinks also are taxed, but 100-percent fruit juice is exempt.

A group of Illinois retailers made a last-ditch effort to halt the rollout of the tax, calling it confusing and “unconstitutionally vague.” The Illinois Retail Merchants Association was granted a temporary injunction that delayed the tax, but a judge eventually let it take effect earlier this month.

Also, Crain’s Chicago Business is reporting that the Illinois Liquor Control Commission has sent a letter to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, warning that many of its wholesalers have to deal with the complicated tax, which “may lead to practices that violate the Illinois Liquor Control Act,” according to Crain’s.

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