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Philly reaps $5.7M in first month of soda tax

Beverage industry workers say they’re paying the price.

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Revenue generated by Philadelphia’s new tax on sweetened beverages is exceeding projections, Philadelphia officials said Thursday. But those returns still will have to grow substantially to meet targets for the year, they added.

In January, Philadelphia collected $5.7 million from the 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax, well above estimates as the program ramps up, said city Finance Director Rob Dubow.

"In our quarterly report, we had $2.3 million," he said. "We knew there would be some growing pains and people had stocked up before the tax had gone into effect, so we thought that the first month would be low."

Pepsi salesman Chris Lemon said that success for the city has come at a cost for those in the beverage industry. Showing city officials his pay stubs for January, Lemon said that in his 10 years selling soda, he has never seen them so low.

"Last week, I got $382. The week prior to that, I got $220," he said. "The week prior to that $261."

Read the rest of this story at NewsWorks