Southeastern PA

Pennsylvania's high court to hear appeal of Philly soda tax

Lower court upheld 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania's highest court will hear an appeal in a lawsuit challenging Philadelphia's year-old tax on soda and other sweetened drinks by the industry and retailers.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a brief order Tuesday saying it would hear the appeal on whether the tax violates a 1932 law prohibiting Philadelphia from taxing a transaction or subject already taxed by the state.

"The court's decision puts us one step closer to getting a resolution of this issue, which has enormous consequences for the city's future," Philadelphians for a Fair Future said in a statement. "While we wait, the city remains unable to fully tackle decades of poverty and neglect that have devastated Philadelphia's poorest citizens."

A lower court upheld Philadelphia's 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages. That court's majority said the beverage tax doesn't duplicate the state sales tax because it is imposed on distributors and thus hits a different target.

The money from the tax is designed to help pay for prekindergarten, community schools and recreation centers.

If fully passed onto consumers, the tax is $1.44 on a six-pack of 16-ounce bottles.

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