In third month, Philly’s sweetened-beverage tax generates $7M

     (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

    (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

    Revenue is still flowing in from Philadelphia’s new sweetened-beverage tax, but the latest figures show the city missed its target for March.

    Last month, the tax brought in $7 million — about $1 million more than it had in February and the highest collection since the tax went into effect in January. But it was still short of the $7.7 million the city’s Revenue Department projected in January. 

    “Projections are hard,” said Mayor Jim Kenney between photo-ops with city employees and their kids Thursday for Take Your Child to Work Day. “I’m happy with the pace we’re going right now.”

    The tax brought in $6.4 million in February and $5.9 million in January. The administration wants to bring in $46 million by the end of the fiscal year in June; three months in, it’s about 40 percent of the way there. Most of the money is supposed to go toward expanding subsidized pre-K seats for 3- and 4-year-olds; creating community schools; and a major overhaul of parks, recreation centers and libraries. 

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    The city’s Revenue Department said it is continuing to send out notices before collections are due on the 20th of the month.

    “We also have our compliance team out on the street visiting different businesses, making sure they are compliant with the law, making sure they are purchasing from registered distributors or paying directly to the city themselves,” said Deputy Revenue Commissioner Marisa Waxman. 

    She said investigators have visited about 5,000 businesses so far. Eventually, those that don’t comply could face fines of $1,000 — but the city is holding off on tough enforcement for now. The soda industry is challenging the tax in Commonwealth Court.


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