CCAGW Urges the Council of the District of Columbia to Oppose the Beverage Taxes in the Nutrition Equity Amendment Act of 2021 | Council For Citizens Against Government Waste

CCAGW Urges the Council of the District of Columbia to Oppose the Beverage Taxes in the Nutrition Equity Amendment Act of 2021

State Action

May 19, 2021

Council of the District of Columbia 
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, 
Washington, D.C. 20004

Dear Councilmember, 

My name is Thomas Schatz, and I have been a resident of the District of Columbia since 1978.  I also serve as the president of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW).  The organization's mission reflects the interests of taxpayers and covers a wide variety of issues, including taxes and spending.  On behalf of the 2,811 CCAGW members and supporters in the District of Columbia, I appreciate the opportunity to submit the following testimony regarding harmful beverage taxes in Bill 24-166.

This bill would implement a 1.5 cents-per-ounce tax on sweetened drinks in the District of Columbia and create a Nutrition Equity Catalyst Fund with the goal of teaching elementary students how to eat healthier.  While many sweetened beverages sold in stores will be taxed, sweetened coffee drinks sold by large coffee chains would not be subject to the beverage tax. 

Beverage taxes enacted in other cities have proven to be harmful to small restaurant owners and their families.  Even before the pandemic, many of these small businesses were struggling to make ends meet and the regressive beverage taxes will have an even more pronounced impact on them and their customers, who will pay more for these items. 

Beverage taxes do not generate anticipated revenues.  In 2017, a 1.5 cents-per-ounce excise tax on sweetened beverages was implemented in Philadelphia.  The initial six-month revenue projection was $46 million, which was lowered to $39.7 million.  The final amount was $39.3 million, 14.6 percent less than the original projection.  

Sweetened beverage taxes cause consumers to travel to neighboring communities with lower taxes.   That will certainly occur if the District of Columbia implements its beverage tax, since everyone lives within five miles of Maryland or Virginia.  

Again, I urge you to vote against the Nutrition Equity Amendment Act of 2021.  I appreciate your attention to this matter.

 Sincerely,

    Tom Schatz
                 President, CCAGW

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