Vote yes on 1107 to repeal tax on candy and soda

October 14, 2010 

The Legislature plugged a budget hole last year with chewing gum. It's not a good fix.

A tax on candy and soda might make sense if the money were targeted to fight obesity or even dedicated to education.

This tax does neither.

It all goes into the general fund.

While some compare it to a sin tax, it really doesn't fit the definition. It doesn't discourage the sin (in this case obesity), and the funds aren't targeted to any remedy.

As a society, we know we're fat.

We also know eating a candy bar doesn't help. But under the new tax code, a Snickers bar is taxed and a Twix bar isn't. Your tastebuds think they're both candy, but the state says they're not.

Another -- probably unintended -- consequence of this legislation is that it hurts some Washington businesses by increasing the business and occupation taxes for certain food processors.

Even though this is a tax issue, it's not really about money. People who can afford to buy bottled water can likely afford to pay a couple of extra cents on that water. The same thing for a candy bar or can of soda.

But this tax extends beyond the candy aisle of your grocery store. And it's a hit-and-miss coverage of the things it intends to tax.

The tax is arbitrary at best. It was hurriedly passed and adopted a strange federal standard that sets flour as the deciding factor between candy and food. Hence, Twinkies are classified as food -- try to explain that to your nutritionist.

It taxes the kiwi-flavored Jelly Bellies, but not the licorice-flavored ones. It taxes Nalley chicken noodle soup (because it's produced in Washington), but not Campbell's.

The state budget is in a real mess. Funds are low and spending is high. But this tax is the wrong answer.

We need thoughtful legislation to come up with a better solution.

A word of caution to like-minded thinkers, though. The initiative is to repeal a current tax. If you don't want to pay the tax, you need to vote yes on I-1107.

Vote to repeal the tax on candy and soda and force legislators to do a better job.

The Tri-City Herald editorial board recommends voters support Initiative 1107.

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