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Bottled-Water Tax Story Even Bigger Sham Than Bottled Water

By Margaret Lyons in News on Dec 27, 2007 8:19PM

2007_12_27.waterbottles.jpgThe Illinois Beverage Association is really, really not psyched about the 5-cent tax on bottled water effective January 1. They're teaming with the American Beverage Association, the International Bottled Water Association, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and the Illinois Food Retailers Association to sue the City once the law goes into effect. Oh, and they've sent out a press release every day for the last week to remind us all how unhappy they are about the tax, how fucked up it, how unfair, etc. Looks like all that hard work paid off because today's Trib has a story that effectively backs the IBA and their co-plaintiffs by taking a completely uncritical look at their claims.

But bottled-water retailers and manufacturers say the tax is nothing but a thinly veiled money grab, which in the end will drive shoppers and vital business out of Chicago.

A thinly veiled money selling publicly sourced water? And is a 5-cent tax per bottle really enough to drive people away? Get ready to be scared, boys and girls, because guess what's going to happen once all the shoppers are driven away...

If business goes, it will jeopardize the 4,500 jobs and $270 million in wages that goes to Chicagoans working in the bottled water industry, the retailer groups said.

But there's no definition here of "bottled water industry." Is that, say, anyone who works for Pepsi, because Pepsi bottles Aquafina? Are we including people who own convenience stores that sell bottled water? And how much business would have to "go" before those jobs would be at risk? One percent? Ten? Sixty? And is that more or less than the projected loss in revenue? Hey wait a second...what is the projected loss in revenue? Finally, is there any disinterested party who can validate or invalidate those claims?

"State law prohibits the City of Chicago from imposing a tax on a single product like they have done with this bottled water tax," Bramlet said. "If this tax is allowed to go into effect, then what is to preclude the City Council from deciding to tax salad dressing or lawn mowers?"

Except the City already taxes soft drinks, right?

The problem here isn't even being for or against the tax. It's that this story is so lazily reported it might as well be a press release. And trust us, we have enough of those.

Water bottles by shrff14