Attorneys argue over soda tax before Commonwealth Court

AP News
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Posted: Apr 05, 2017 11:49 AM

PITTSBURGH (AP) — An attorney for consumers, restaurants and beverage industry groups asked Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Court to strike down Philadelphia's 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages, saying it violates a state law that limits the city's taxing authority, among other laws.

The 1932 law passed by the General Assembly gives the city taxing authority — but also specifically prohibits it from taxing anything already taxed by the state.

Chip Becker, the attorney arguing against the tax Wednesday in Pittsburgh, says soda is already subject to the state's 6 percent sales tax, making Philadelphia's tax illegal.

But Mark Aronchick, the attorney defending the city's position, told the seven-judge panel that the tax isn't on soda, but on its distribution to retail outlets in the city.

The tax amounts to 18 cents on a 12-ounce can of soda or $1.44 on a six-pack of 16-ounce bottles if retailers pass on the entire amount to consumers.