Preparing Bill to Tax Pop
Gongwer News Service, November 26, 2003
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would tax bottled and canned soft drinks sold in grocery stores
will be introduced shortly after the Legislature returns to
session next week, said Sen. Virg Bernero (D-Lansing). The
measure, if adopted, could raise as much as $100 million.
But a soft drink industry spokesperson said the constitution
must be changed, not statute, to tax such beverages. Soft drinks
are a food, said William Lobenherz of the Michigan Soft Drink
Association, and as such meet the constitutional definition
exempting them from sales taxes.
Mr. Bernero, who has targeted the industry before with
legislation to require milk vending machines alongside soda pop
machines in schools, said soft drinks have no nutritional value
and therefore should not be eligible for the exemption.
"Everyone knows we need the revenue," Mr. Bernero said. "My
colleagues have been willing to vote for other sin taxes. Pop
may not be a sin, but it doesn't do anything for you."
But Mr. Lobenherz said soft drinks contain three of the seven
nutrients science considers vital to life, namely water,
carbohydrates and phosphorus. Therefore, they are a food, he
Statistics collected during the 1990s also indicate that taxing
soft drinks will affect lower-income families more than upper
income families, Mr. Lobenherz said.
Fountain soft drinks, such as those sold at restaurants, are
subject to sales tax, Mr. Lobenherz said.
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