Think tank analyst says Cook County's new soda tax will hurt lower-income residents most
The Cook County Board recently approved a regressive tax on residents to raise money for the county, this time a penny-per-ounce sales tax on soda and other sugary drinks.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle pushed for the tax in a collaborative effort with Michael Bloomberg, New York's former mayor.
Many states have implemented regressive taxes similar to the soda tax, but it is important to note who will be directly affected by the tax.
“Cook County is once again trying to fix a spending problem by raising new tax revenues,” Michael Lucci, vice president of policy at the Illinois Policy Institute, said in an appearance on the Illinois Rising radio show.
Lucci said statistics provided from Gallup polls suggest the tax will negatively impact lower-income individuals and families, as they are typically the ones who consume most sugary drinks.
"[The tax] is specifically targeted at lower-income people,” Lucci said. “45 percent of people with incomes below $30,000 drink these sugary drinks,” whereas “only one-fifth of people with incomes above $75,000 actually drink pop.”
Lucci said this is another way for the county to generate revenue, on the backs of the poor.
“They know this is going to go after people with lower incomes, and they simply don’t care," Lucci said.
Lucci said this tax strategy is a “consequence of having large governments.”
Illinois Rising host Dan Proft foresees another consequence of the tax.
"People will go to neighboring states to buy these goods that are overtaxed in Cook County," Proft said. "This is predatory government."
All of these products are unhealthy, so the county’s way of fixing the problem is to implement a tax to discourage the purchase of such products.
Lucci said that if people do stop drinking soda, “then they are going to have to find a new way to tax you," referring to county officials. "They are going to maybe tax hamburgers next, or whatever they can sell to be good for your health."
Profit said this penny tax is similar to when Chicago boosts taxes on cigarettes to try and generate revenue.
Lucci said this is no way to run a county.
“It’s a silly way to govern," Lucci said.