Cook County Sweetened Beverage Tax officially expires

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

The Cook County sweetened beverage tax has come to an end after four months. ©GettyImages/scanrai
The Cook County sweetened beverage tax has come to an end after four months. ©GettyImages/scanrai

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The sweetened beverage tax in Cook County, Illinois, expired on Friday after four months of “overwhelming and relentless opposition” from retailers, consumers and policy makers.

The tax was introduced in August, but in October The Cook County Board of Commissioner's Finance Committee voted 15-1​ to repeal the tax.

Tax backlash

After the Cook County sweetened beverage tax went into effect on Aug. 2, 2017, local retailers reported decreased sales due to consumers shopping in neighboring counties to avoid the penny-per-ounce tax.

“Retailers and businesses are already anticipating increased sales and customers returning to the Cook County side of the border to shop,”​ Brian Jordan, president of the Illinois Food Retailers Association, said.

Cook County was the largest municipal government in the US to pass a sweetened beverage tax and the first to repeal one, according to the Can the Tax coalition.

Other cities like Tacoma and Spokane, Washington have axed plans to implement a sweetened beverage tax due to similar concerns and public opposition from local residents and businesses.

“I was overwhelmed by letters and calls from residents and businesses in my district in support of a repeal. I always opposed the tax and the voices of Cook County residents made my resolve even stronger,”​ Cook County Commissioner Timothy Schneider (R-15) said.

“The beverage tax was always bad policy and I’m thrilled to stand with the retailers, restaurants, small business and my constituents to celebrate the tax’s repeal,”​ Cook County Commissioner Peter Silvestri (R-9) said.

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