Cook County Sweetened Beverage Tax

On November 10, 2016, the Cook County Board of Commissioners passed the Cook County Sweetened Beverage Tax Ordinance. The tax imposed will be at the rate of $0.01 per ounce on the retail sale of all sweetened beverages in Cook County.

The effective date of the tax is July 1, 2017. Ordinance information available in the download section, FAQs can be viewed under additional info.

Please use the registration form to register for the Cook County Sweetened Beverage Tax (this form can also be used to register for other Cook County home rule taxes). If any entity owns and operates more than one location subject to Cook County Sweetened Beverage Tax, please submit the additional site list along with the registration application.

*Note: Please email registration documents to taxregistration@cookcountyil.gov

Sweetened Beverage Monthly Tax Sample Return (Coming Soon)

Sweetened Beverage Retail Floor Tax Return (Coming Soon)

Sweetened Beverage Retail Self-Assessment Tax Return (Coming Soon)

Who Pays the Tax?

The ultimate incidence of and liability for payment of the sweetened beverage tax is to be borne by the purchaser of the sweetened beverage. Any distributor of bottled sweetened beverages and any distributor of syrup and/or powder used to produce a sweetened beverage shall collect the sweetened beverage tax from any retailer to whom the sale of bottled sweetened beverages or syrup and/or powder used to produce a sweetened beverage is made and shall remit the tax to the Department of Revenue (Department).

  • The Distributor or Retailer must include the tax in the sale price of the sweetened beverages, syrup and/or powder.
  • Should a Retailer obtain product where the tax is due and was not previously paid to a Distributor, that Retailer is responsible for remitting the tax to the Department.

Remitting the Tax

Registered taxpayers shall file each month with the Department a tax return in such form as prescribed and furnished by the Department on or before the 20th day of the month following the month for which the return is due.

Non-taxable transactions

Registered distributors shall not pay or collect a tax with respect to sweetened beverages, syrup and/or powder which are otherwise subject to the tax when the sweetened beverages, syrup and/or powder are being sold to the following:

  • Another registered distributor; or
  • An unregistered distributor, a retailer or a purchaser when the selling distributor, or its agent, delivers the sweetened beverages, syrup and/or powder to a location outside of Cook County.

The tax imposed by this Article shall not apply to purchases of sweetened beverages by a passenger on an interstate carrier; nor shall this tax apply to purchases that are specifically exempt from taxation under Federal law.

Books and records

Every distributor and every retailer shall keep accurate books and records showing all transactions that gave rise, or may have given rise, to any tax liability, exemption or defense to liability.

Penalties

Any person determined to have violated this Article, as amended, by failing to file a return and/or failing to remit taxes shall be subject to the penalties listed in the Cook County Uniform Penalties, Interest and Procedures Ordinance, Chapter 34, Article III. Any person determined to have violated any other provisions of this Article shall be subject to a fine of $1,000.00 for the first offense, and a fine of $2,000.00 for the second and each subsequent offense.

Separate and distinct offenses shall be regarded as committed each day upon which said person shall continue any such violation, or permit any such violation to exist after notification thereof. It shall be deemed a violation of this Article for any person to knowingly furnish false or inaccurate information to the Department. Criminal prosecution pursuant to this Article shall in no way bar the right of the County to institute civil proceedings to recover delinquent taxes, interest and penalty due and owing as well as costs incurred for such proceeding.

Floor Tax

On or before August 20, 2017, every Retailer of sweetened beverage will be required to submit a Floor Tax Return and remit the applicable tax amount. The Floor Tax return must reflect the Retailer’s inventory, on which tax was not previously paid, that was in his/her possession on June 30, 2017. Further information will be forthcoming.

Application of the Sweetened Beverage Tax

  • Bottled sweetened beverages (soda, sports drinks, flavored water, energy drinks, pre-made sweetened coffee and tea with less than 50% milk content, etc.) – the tax rate is $.01 per ounce of sweetened beverage and is calculated on the fluid ounces contained in the bottle or can.           
  • Sweetened beverages produced from syrups using a beverage dispensing machine and powders using a beverage dispensing machine or by hand mixing (fountain drinks, lemonade, etc.) – tax is applied to the total amount of beverage that the syrup or powder will make per the manufacturers’ directions.
  • For example, a 5 gallon bag of syrup will make 3,840 ounces of beverage – at tax rate of $.01 per ounce of sweetened beverage, the tax for that bag of syrup is $38.40.
  • A reduction of 5% of the calculated tax will be applied to account for spillage and product preparation.
  • Per the Uniform Penalties, Interest and Procedures Ordinance, Distributors will be able to apply for credits or refunds to cover breakage, spoilage, etc.
  • If a refund is requested resulting from the return of product by a Retailer, the Distributor must refund the tax amount to the Retailer before applying for a refund from the Department.
  • If a Retailer decides to offer drink specials, including free refills, he/she must determine how much of the tax amount should be added to the sale price of the original beverage.
  • For example, if for every 12 ounce beverage sold, the purchaser gets one free refill, the appropriate tax for 24 ounces should be added to the sale price.
  • Wherever the Ordinance is inconsistent or silent, the provisions of the Cook County Uniform Penalties, Interest and Procedures Ordinance (Chapter 34, Article III) shall apply and supplement.

Exclusions

  • 100% natural fruit/vegetable juice, syrup and powder with no added sweetener
  • Milk, soy, rice, or similar milk substitutes that are the primary ingredient (more than 50%)
  • Unsweetened drinks to which a purchaser can add, or can request that a retailer add, sugar, at the point of sale
  • Infant formula
  • Beverages for medical use
  • Weight reduction/therapeutic nutritional meal replacements
  • Any syrup or powder that the consumer himself or herself combines with other ingredients to create a beverage

Important Dates

March 1, 2017 – Sweetened Beverage Tax ordinance goes into effect; distributors will receive information beforehand about registering with the Cook County Department of Revenue (“the Department”).

June 30, 2017 – Sweetened Beverage Floor Tax inventory date; retailers must take inventory subject to sweetened beverage tax in which tax was not previously collected.

July 1, 2017 – Sweetened Beverage Tax goes into effect; retailers and distributors must begin collecting tax when applicable.

August 20, 2017 – Retailers must remit to the Department its floor tax return and payment.

August 20, 2017 – Distributors must remit to the Department its tax payment and monthly return reflecting July 2017 activity.

Please view the Sweetened Beverage Tax Ordinance for additional information.

Please note that additional information, tax returns, rulings, etc. will be available in the future. If there are any questions, please email revenuecompliance@cookcountyil.gov.