Sugary Beverages & Other Taxes

Taxes are the tools societies use to collect the revenue to pay for goods and services that individuals cannot afford. Taxes on income, property, retail sales and corporate profits provide the basis of many governmental operations and services including public infrastructure such as parks, defense, pollution cleanup, nutrition benefits, Medicare and Social Security. Taxes on fuel and cars support our transportation systems. “Sin taxes” are tools used to cover the costs associated with consumption of products that cause harm and public expenditures to address those harms. Tobacco, alcohol and now cannabis are the best examples. We believe the harms caused by sugary beverages have been so well documented by peer reviewed science they must be taxed.

The annual cost to American society due to lost productivity and treatment related to diabetes is $327 billion dollars! Thirty million Americans suffer from the disease today and another 84 million are prediabetic. This is untenable for the nation’s budget.

Taxes on sugary beverages in Albany, Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco have lowered consumption of those beverages while increasing that of healthier beverages, without lowering retail sales. They have also raised millions in local revenue for investment in children and community health. They are a win-win solution.

We support a statewide California sugary beverage tax to fund prevention programs that end the epidemics of obesity and diet related disease. We are actively campaigning to ensure that a large portion of statewide sugary tax revenue be used for improving access to healthy food (food justice). We propose this be done by improving school meals (including increased purchasing of organic food); increasing grants for the ROC-inspired California Nutrition Incentive Program; and for a new Community Food Project grant program that would expand urban and peri-urban agriculture projects, community kitchens, permanent farmers market facilities and more.

We also believe that the currently low taxes on synthetic fertilizers, which contribute to water pollution, herbicides and pesticides, should be increased to raise funds for rural economic development and/or incentive programs that support farmer and rancher adoption of organic, biodynamic and regenerative practices.

To hear a podcast on the failed 2019 attempt to pass a statewide tax on California, hit this link.