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Soda-Tax Lawsuit Goes to Pa. Supreme Court

Top justices will consider double-tax challenge in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA -- The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has agreed to consider the legality of Philadelphia’s 13-month-old sweetened-beverage tax.

Justices will weigh whether the 1.5-cent-per-ounce levy amounts to a double tax. According to a Philadelphia Inquirer report, Pennsylvania law prohibits the city from imposing a levy on something already taxed by the state. The tax is imposed on distributors rather than consumers, but lawyers representing the beverage industry and local retailers argued that the levy is being passed on to consumers, who already pay sales tax set by the state.

Shanin Specter, a lawyer representing businesses and trade associations, said he was pleased with the court’s decision to consider the tax.

Philadelphia City Solicitor Sozi Pedro Tulante said he was not surprised by the court’s action.

“We welcome the justices’ thorough review of the commonwealth court’s decision that confirmed the legality of the tax,” he said. “Ultimately, we look forward to the day when the city can begin full implementation of the essential programs funded by the tax."

The tax survived a legal challenge before it went into effect in January 2017. A Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge dismissed a similar lawsuit in December 2016.

No hearing date nor a timeline has been set, according to court filings.

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