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August 7, 2017

Confused about what Cook County’s soda tax covers?

Let’s get this one out of the way: Your LaCroix sparkling water will not incur Cook County’s penny-per-ounce sweetened beverage tax, set to go into effect Wednesday.

But the so-called soda tax applies to much more than just pop. Any nonalcoholic beverage that’s either sugar- or artificially sweetened will be taxed, which means fountain drinks as well as bottled and canned beverages. The tax applies to soda and diet soda, ready-to-drink sweetened coffees and teas, sports and energy drinks, and juice products that aren’t 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice, among other beverages.

Be it a Coca-Cola made with high fructose corn syrup or a Bai Limu Lemonade, sweetened with a proprietary mix of stevia and erythritol — it’s going to cost you a penny per ounce more.

Here are some other noteworthy examples of beverages that will and won’t be taxed.

Sparkling water

The Can the Tax Coalition, the beverage industry-funded opposition to Cook County’s sweetened beverage tax, has claimed the tax will apply to flavored waters.

But as mentioned above, LaCroix and other similarly flavored bubbly waters, such as Perrier and Soleil, won’t be taxed because they’re not sweetened. Some flavored sparkling waters, such as Sparkling Ice and Polar Sparkling Frost, are indeed sweetened and therefore would be taxed.

Ultimately, thrifty shoppers will have to acquaint themselves with the various names for sweeteners and examine ingredients to know for sure whether they’ll be taxed.

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