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Berkeley Floats Soda Tax

The City Council will ask voters whether they would support a penny-per-ounce tax on soft drinks.
February 28, 2014

​BERKELEY – Despite failures by other California localities, the Berkeley City Council will gather data from voters on a proposed penny-per-ounce soda tax, Reuters reports. Rather than try to implement such a tax itself, the council will conduct a poll of its citizens to gauge response.

If the outcome of that poll is favorable, council members said a referendum for a tax could be included in the city-wide ballot in November 2014. The Berkeley tax would be tacked on at the first distribution point, with estimates that it could bring in between $1.5 million and $3 million each year for the city.

The American Beverage Association contends that such taxes would trigger “unintended consequences on middle-class jobs and small businesses.” Soda tax proposals have gained traction lately, although none have passed in the United States as yet.

Two other California cities — Richmond and El Monte — failed in their attempt to add a tax on soda and other sugared beverages. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is considering a 2-cent-per-ounce tax on energy drinks, sports drinks and soda. If approved by the entire board, voters would have the opportunity to decide its fate in the November election. Meanwhile, an Illinois senator sponsored the bill that would tax sugared beverages at a penny per ounce, while a Connecticut mayor wants the state to consider a statewide tax on soft drinks.