Return of the Cola Wars

Beverage tax may not be dead after all

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    Washington’s beverage tax may not be flat after all.

    D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray included another form of the controversial tax in his 2011 budget. This one would impose the city’s 6 percent sales tax to sodas and other non-alcoholic beverages with natural or artificial sweeteners. Those drinks are exempt right now because they’re considered grocery items.

    Gray killed the original beverage tax proposal last week. That called for a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on soft drinks, other than diet sodas. Council member Mary Cheh had proposed it to help fund an initiative that requires District schools to serve students more fruits and vegetables.

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    According to the Washington Post, the new proposal would generate about $6.5 million for that initiative. More than $1 million would also go into the general fund. It would apply to sports drinks like Gatorade, energy drinks like Red Bull and soft drinks -- including diet drinks. Drinks such as fruit juice, milk, tea, water or coffee would not have a sales tax applied to them.

    The D.C. Council gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a budget including the drink tax.