Philly Admits Soda Tax Is Crushing Local Small Businesses, Expanding "Food Deserts"

Just one week after Chicago shockingly repealed their soda ban following a revolt from local business owners (see: Soda Tax Fizzles In Chicago As Cook County Officials Cast Decisive 15-1 Repeal Vote), it seems that Philadelphia's flirtations with forming a more perfect "nanny state" via the elimination of sugary drinks could be on a collision course with a similar fate.

As WHYY points out today, a survey conducted by Philadelphia's Controller Alan Butkovitz — a longtime opponent of the soda tax — found that nine out of 10 businesses reported revenue loss since the city’s sweetened beverage tax took effect earlier this year. Of those reporting revenue loss, 60% of them blamed the soda tax for their woes.

City Controller Alan Butkovitz today released the results of the Philadelphia Beverage Tax survey that found more than 60 percent of businesses indicated a revenue loss as a direct result of the new tax.

Of the 650 businesses that reported a decline in year-to-year revenue, more than 400 attributed “most” or “all” of the decline to the implementation of the Beverage Tax. The majority of these businesses reported revenue losses of more than 10 percent.

“The overwhelming majority of businesses that carry products subject to the Philadelphia Beverage Tax feel a significant impact as a result of the tax,” said Controller Butkovitz. “The tax has had detrimental effects.”

Butkovitz’s team, with help from various business groups, reached out to “more than 1,600” businesses that sell or sold taxed beverages. Response was purely voluntary, and 741 businesses filled out questionnaires.

“This is not going to be the comprehensive answer to everything, but I think it does create a serious warning and an attestation of what has been stated by a number of the businesses,” he said during a Monday news conference. “Because I think the administration has minimized and ridiculed the idea that businesses are fighting for survival.”