Philly Soda Tax Brings in Highest Collection Yet in March

After three months of the tax, the city says it’s on track to hitting its fiscal year 2017 goal. NoDerog NoDerog

The Philly soda tax brought in $7 million dollars in March, its third month in action, the Department of Revenue announced on Tuesday. The amount is the most the city has ever collected in a single month from the beverage tax.

The city collected $5.9 million for January, the first month, and $6.2 million for the month of February. The Department of Revenue says the March collection of $7 million is a preliminary figure and final numbers for the month will be available in May.

According to Philadelphia’s Five Year Plan released at the beginning of March, the city’s budget office projected that the tax would bring in $7.7 million each month until June, the end of fiscal year 2017. The preliminary figure falls below this estimate.

The Department of Revenue says it’s confident that it’ll reach the fiscal year 2017 collection goal of $46 million, which encompasses the first six months of the 1.5-cents-per-ounce sweetened beverage tax. For the full year, the city expects the tax to bring in more than $91 million. “We are satisfied with what has been a relatively smooth implementation and collection of the tax,” said revenue commissioner Frank Breslin in a statement. “Field investigators have found that a majority of businesses affected by the tax are compliant. We will continue our enforcement and compliance efforts to reach all those distributing sweetened beverages.”

To reach the $46 million goal for fiscal year 2017, the city still needs to collect about $26.9 million. That’s about $9 million in collections for the months of April, May and June. But Mike Dunn, a spokesman for the city, says the revenue department will be collecting funds for fiscal year 2017 well past the month of June. “Some of the payments that we receive after July 1 are actually related to activities that occur before the end of June,” Dunn told Philadelphia magazine. “All the [Philly Beverage Tax] payments received on July 20 will be related to activities prior to June 30, and some of the August revenues may also be attributed to before June 30.” 

The city says collections of the beverage tax are expected to fluctuate throughout the year because of factors like holidays, weather, and seasonal changes in soda consumption.

Follow @fabiolacineas on Twitter.