Published: July 2022

ID #: 76299

Journal: Food Policy

Authors: Jones-Smith JC, Knox MA, Coe NB, Walkinshaw LP, Schoof J, Hamilton D, Hurvitz PM, Krieger J

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Taxing sweetened beverages has emerged as an important and effective policy for addressing their overconsumption. However, taxes may place a greater economic burden on people with lower incomes. We assess the degree to which sweetened beverage taxes in three large U.S. cities placed an inequitable burden on populations with lower incomes by assessing spending on beverage taxes by income after taxes have been implemented, as well as any net transfer of funds towards lower income populations once allocation of tax revenue is considered. We find that while lower-income populations pay a higher percentage of their income in beverage taxes, there is no difference in absolute spending on beverage taxes per capita, and that there is a sizable net transfer of funds towards programs targeting lower-income populations. Thus, when considering both population-level taxes paid and sufficiently targeted allocations of tax revenues, a sweetened beverage tax may have characteristics of an equitable public policy.

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