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Illinois to expand "snack tax" on Sept. 1
* Illinois expands sugary food/beverage tax on Sept. 1
* Tax on sugary sports and energy drinks to rise
LOS ANGELES Aug 31 (Reuters) - Illinois residents on Tuesday will start paying higher taxes on sugary sports and energy drinks, certain fruit drinks and some types of candy as the fifth-most populous U.S. state eyes new revenue sources.
The move comes as the nation's lawmakers scramble to fill government coffers during the deepest and longest recession since the Great Depression. And, some polls suggest that public support for taxes on fattening foods is rising.
Nearly three dozen states already charge taxes on sugary foods, but some health policy experts say they are not high enough to impact consumption.
In Illinois, which ranks No. 10 in terms of obese and overweight children, the tax increase is part of a larger effort to fund a $31 billion public works program. The overall package of tax and revenue measures is being challenged in court. [ID:nN26268849]
Starting Sept. 1, Illinois will reclassify the drinks mentioned above as "general merchandise" and will tax them at a rate of 6.25 percent. The state had previously taxed those beverages at a rate of 1 percent.
Candy that does not include flour as an ingredient also will be taxed at the higher state rate and apply to foods ranging from chocolate chips for baking to fruit roll-ups.
Taxes will vary around the state. In Chicago, for example, beverages classified as soft drinks could be taxed at a rate as high as 14.25 percent, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Revenue said. Chicago's general merchandise tax is 10.25 percent, the city charges a 3 percent soft drink tax and there is an additional 1 percent tax on food and beverages in some tourist spots. (Reporting by Lisa Baertlein; Editing Bernard Orr)
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