Retailers win another round against Cook County 'soda tax'

Retailers won another round Monday in their attempt to keep a Cook County tax on sugary beverages from going into effect.

The Illinois Appellate Court upheld a temporary restraining order keeping the tax at bay until both sides air their arguments in court and get a final ruling on the legality of the ordinance.

The penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages was to take effect July 1.

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association and a number of grocers filed suit the day before the tax was to begin, arguing the ordinance violates a provision of the state constitution that requires products to be taxed uniformly.

The tax covers carbonated soft drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks, as well as fruit juice with added sweeteners. County officials estimate it will bring in about $200 million annually and predict deep budget cuts if the measure fails. Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, a supporter of the tax, has also said the move is in the interest of public health.

Rob Carr, president of the Illinois Retail Merchants' Association, said in a statement the appellate court's decision "protects Cook County retailers and consumers against a tax with rules and regulations that are unconstitutional, poorly defined and vague."

• Daily Herald news services contributed to this report.

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