Walgreens mistakenly applied the city's soda tax, which went into effect on August 2, to sparkling water.
Chicago implemented its “sweetened beverage tax,” yesterday, which adds a penny per ounce to the price of soda. But the much-beloved sparkling water LaCroix is being wrongly taxed under the new law at Walgreens locations in the city, according to a report by DNA info, and the drink’s fans are not happy.
The new tax raises the price 2-liter bottle of soda by 68 cents and a six-pack by 72 cents. While the city was torn over the controversial tax, which some city officials claim will be “bad for the tax payer,” the American Heart Association of Metro Chicago stands behind the decision, stating that it “an important step in the fight against chronic disease, one that will improve the physical health of our residents and the financial health of the county." The tax is also expected to bring in $200 million dollars to Chicago’s Cook County by 2018.
The Illinois Retail Merchants Association is still fighting the tax is court, and has taken on the responsibility of helping retailers understand what beverages can and cannot be taxed, efforts which seem to have not worked everywhere.
LaCroix is an unsweetened beverage, which means that it should not be subject to the tax. DNAinfo reporters did a little sleuthing and found that at some Walgreens around the city, green signs were posted near boxes of LaCroix, notifying customers that it would now be taxed.
However, a spokesman for Cook County told DNAinfo that the tax should not be applied to unsweetened sparkling water (even if it’s flavored). Even more curious: Walgreens did not apply the tax to its own brand of the unsweetened sparkling water.
Although the tax only increases the price of a six-pack of LaCroix by 72 cents, devotees of the drink took to social media platforms like Reddit to express their distress over the increased price.
Eventually, Toni Preckwinkle, advocate of the tax and Cook County Board President, took to Twitter to clear up any confusion of the nature of the tax, stating that LaCroix should not be taxed, along with the warning "Don't believe otherwise.”