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Here in Multnomah County, we pride ourselves on forward thinking principles and do our part to support a healthy economy. Now, a beverage tax proposal threatens to penalize citizens and harm the local businesses we count on.

If the beverage tax passes, grocery bills are going up, and these price hikes will hurt working families the most. But that’s not all. Escalating costs would cause many shoppers to cross county lines for their everyday needs. That’s exactly what happened in Philadelphia, resulting in plunging sales and job cuts.

Is this the future we want for our community? Or do we want to stand strong for progressive values by rejecting regressive taxes that will cost us jobs and hurt low-income consumers?

Imagine checking out at the register to find the beverages in your shopping basket cost two to four times as much. This astronomical increase could apply to hundreds of beverages, including sodas, juice drinks, energy drinks, some teas, sports drinks -- even kombucha.

This is more than sticker shock. It’s about keeping consumer fairness and our economic vitality intact.

We know this tax revenue will line political coffers, but it remains unclear how these funds will be used. Despite politicians’ promises, the Measure gives them broad discretion about how the money will be spent.

We know this tax hike is simply not worth the risk. That’s why we created Move Forward Multnomah, a coalition of local small businesses and county residents urging opposition to this dangerous proposal. After all, we know the best way to encourage smart decisions is through education and information – not the government trying to make products so costly that working families can’t afford them. Tell your lawmakers and your community that the cost is too high to pass a beverage tax.

Together, we can move forward, Multnomah.



Move Forward Multnomah is a coalition of concerned citizens, businesses and community organizations actively opposing new taxes on everyday items like juice drinks, sodas, teas, sports drinks, energy drinks, coffee drinks, and even kombucha. We’re taking a stand because Multnomah County consumers can’t afford to pay more and are committed to protecting local businesses and jobs.

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What is the Beverage Tax?

Multnomah County is considering a proposal to tax sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, juice drinks, sports drinks, coffee drinks and iced teas. This tax on the distribution of sugar-sweetened beverages will be passed on to county restaurant owners, grocers and corner stores, who will then be forced to raise prices on hundreds of beverages.

How much is this beverage tax going to cost me?

The proposed ordinance creates a 1.5 cents per ounce beverage tax.

A one and a half-cent tax per an ounce may not sound like a lot but it quickly adds up. A two-liter bottle would cost an additional $1.02. For a 12-pack of cans, it would cost an extra $2.16.

If this proposal passes, hardworking Multnomah County families will be left paying this hefty tax.

I’ve heard this tax referred to as “regressive.” What do people mean by that?

You will often hear taxes like the Beverage Tax referred to as "regressive." That’s because taxes like this target low-income and working class families who spend a larger percentage of their income on food than wealthier families.

As this Tax Foundation article recently pointed out: “a 10 percent soda tax could burden high-income families by $24.29, while poor families would be harmed nearly twice that amount at $47.38.” Read more about regressive beverage taxes here.

Which beverages would be affected by this tax?

The proposal applies to any beverage with added sugar – that could translate to more than a thousand beverages like sodas, juice drinks, energy drinks, some teas and sports drinks— even kombucha.

Who’s going to pay for the tax?

You will. All taxes get passed on to the consumer. Whether the tax is slapped on wholesalers or retailers, consumers eventually pay it. This is what happened in Philadelphia, where people were shocked to find their beverages had doubled in price in some cases overnight.

Where is the money going?

The tax money is supposed to support education and health programs. But we know from experience in other places like Philadelphia—the money doesn’t always go where they say it will. Adding more insult to injury? The tax would fall mostly on low-income and working class families—those who simply can’t afford to pay more taxes.

How will this tax affect Multnomah County residents and businesses?

This tax is regressive because it disproportionately impacts the grocery bills of those who can least afford it. It’s unfair that the wealthy pay a much smaller share of their income under a beverage tax. Neighborhood grocery stores, restaurants, movie theaters and other local businesses that rely on beverage sales for a good part of their income will be hit especially hard. They will lose sales when people leave the county to shop to avoid the tax. Losing business like that means a loss of income for employees whose hours are trimmed, or worse, jobs are cut.

What can I do to stop this tax?

Tell your friends, neighbors and elected officials to oppose this proposal. By raising your objection, you’ll send a clear message that residents and businesses have higher priorities for government than taxing beverages.

You can stay up-to-date on the latest tax developments by joining our growing citizens’ coalition.