Beverage tax decision expected today, ahead of July 1st implementation

CHICAGO — Cook County’s beverage tax is set to go into effect Saturday, unless a last minute court order stops it.

An Illinois judge is expected to rule on whether to temporarily bar Cook County’s penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages. Retailers with the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and several grocers filed a lawsuit trying to block the tax. They claim it’s unconstitutional and too vague.

A ruling on that suit is expected today, ahead of the July 1st implementation date.

County officials say Cook County needs the money from this tax to pay for services and estimate it will generate $17 million dollars a month in revenue. They say it will also benefit the public’s health over time.

Cook County Circuit Judge Daniel Kubasiak heard arguments Thursday.

Retailer lawyer David Ruskin says there currently isn’t a system for refunds to occur should the tax eventually be found unconstitutional.

The tax would affect all non-alcoholic, sweetened drinks, whether they include real or artificial sugar. Exempt from the tax are sweetened coffee drinks like those made at coffee shops and purchases made with food stamps.