Thursday, August 10, 2017

Taxwinkle's soda tax could cost Illinois $87 million in food stamp funds

If it was a Republican who rammed the hugely unpopular soda tax down the throats of Crook County residents you'd see liberals like Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the establishment media howling as if Donald Trump was re-elected. Especially since food stamps for the 900,000 county residents who receive them might be in jeopardy. The "starving kids" of the Chicago area would be the lead story on CNN and MSNBC for days.

Cue the somber music. Preferably something from Sarah McLachlan.

But Cook County hasn't had a Republican president leading the board of supervisors in 50 years. And the current one is a leftist Democrat, Toni "Taxwinkle" Preckwinkle.

From WGN-TV:
The federal government is threatening to withhold about $87 million in food stamp funds from the state of Illinois if Cook County doesn’t alter the manner in which the penny-an-ounce tax on sweetened beverages has been implemented, officials said Thursday.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is objecting to how the tax is applied to purchases using food stamps, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It says the county must take "immediate steps" to become compliant, adding no taxes can be collected until the problem is solved.

Cook County officials told retailers that purchases made with food stamp benefits are exempt from the soda tax under federal law. However, it allows retailers to tax those purchases and provide refunds as a workaround for stores that haven;t been able to properly update their point-of-sale systems.

The Agriculture Department on Monday warned the Illinois Department of Human Services in a letter that the refund system violates federal law and money could be withheld.
The sugary drink tax was passed in November, Preckwinkle cast the tie-breaking vote. No Republican voted for it. And the county was warned by the feds last month that is was non-compliant. To be fair, soda should not be covered, in my opinion at least, by food stamps. Remember--the "N" in SNAP stands for nutrition.

But let's not forget, this tax is "for the kids." It has nothing to do with revenue.

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