Councilman To Introduce Bill To Tax Some Tobacco Products

Councilman Darrell Clarke plans to introduce legislation on Thursday to tax some tobacco products in the city. He said the tax would be levied as part of a business’ gross receipts tax and could raise $6 million annually.

That amount isn’t nearly enough to plug the projected $150 million budget hole, but Clarke said every little bit helps. The bill would impact cigars, chewing tobacco and rolling papers -- but not cigarettes, he said.

"An overwhelming majority of council members will support this measure," Clarke said. "It’s at a point where we’re trying to find any measures we can find consensus on."

Nutter proposed an annual $300 per household trash fee and a 2 cent per ounce tax on sugary beverages to close the projected $150 million budget gap. The “soda tax” -- which the administration is also billing as a public health initiative -- would be charged as part of retailer’s business tax and they could pass it on to consumers.

Already, Council seems to have rejected the trash fee plan. Many members prefer a proposal by Councilman Frank DiCicco to raise property taxes by 12 percent, which would raise the same amount of revenue.

Council has also raised concerns about the soda tax, which has drawn harsh criticism from soft drinks manufacturers, teamsters and retailers, who argue that the tax could cost jobs and may not be directly passed on to soda anyway.