Retailers and Residents Renew Calls to Stop Baltimore City Beverage Container Tax Increase

Retailers and Residents Renew Calls to Stop Baltimore City Beverage Container Tax Increase

BALTIMORE, MD (February 27, 2012)—Members of Stop the Baltimore City Beverage Tax coalition renewed today their opposition to a recent proposal that would expand the existing beverage tax from 2 cents to 5 cents per container and make it permanent. This proposal will further hurt Baltimore City’s retailers and soft drink manufactures – and place an additional burden on hard-working families still caught in a difficult economy.

“Increasing the beverage container tax will make it harder to do business in Baltimore City,” said Sandy Vary, owner of Bel-Garden Bi-RiteSupermarket and member of the Stop the Baltimore City Beverage Tax coalition. “What some might not realize is that the tax has an impact that spreads beyond the beverage aisle at stores like mine – it gives our customers a reason to cross the border to do their shopping in the suburbs, further debilitating the grocers, retailers, and beverage bottlers in Baltimore City that provide good-paying jobs to hard-working residents.”

The regressive proposal will have the greatest impact on middle and lower-income residents. There are better ways to remedy the situation than to place this immense financial burden on the backs of hardworking Baltimore families.

“This tax is costing Baltimore City jobs by making the beverage industry and retailers less competitive,” said Dave Dunphy, representing the Local UFCW 27. “Right after the tax on beverage containers was imposed, a number of good-paying jobs in the beverage industry disappeared from Baltimore City. Why would anyone think that increasing the tax would have less severe results?”

A container tax was previously put into place and then repealed, because Baltimore residents revolted so strongly against it. The current tax is driving customers away from Baltimore City local businesses into the surrounding suburbs to do their grocery shopping, just like it did last time.

“This tax is hurting Baltimore City residents and businesses — again,” said Jeff Zellmer from the Maryland Retailers Association and member of the Stop the Baltimore Beverage Tax. “It is unfair and discriminatory to place this immense financial burden on the backs of hard-working Baltimore families. Instead of increasing this tax, Baltimore City should repeal this backward law and focus instead on policies that create jobs and stimulate the city’s economy.”

It has been reported in the media recently that the City is struggling to collect millions of dollars in taxes that are owed to them, like the Homestead Tax Credit. Before the City imposes any more taxes on the working families and small businesses – efforts should be made to collect these outstanding debts.

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Stop the Baltimore Beverage Tax is a growing coalition of concerned citizens, union workers, businesses and community organizations.

For more information about the coalition, please visit: www.nobaltimorebeveragetax.com.