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Retailers appeal ruling dismissing lawsuit against soda tax

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CHICAGO (AP) _ The Illinois Retail Merchants Association is appealing a judge’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit that temporarily blocked the Chicago area’s sweetened beverage tax.

The penny-per-ounce tax imposed by Cook County, originally slated to begin July 1, was delayed by the lawsuit. It’s now scheduled to go into effect Wednesday.

In their appeal Tuesday of the lawsuit’s dismissal, retailers say they doubt Judge Daniel Kubasiak used the correct standards in granting Cook County’s motion to dismiss.

On the appeal, county spokesman Frank Shuftan said officials “anticipated a lengthy legal battle.”

In arguing against the tax, the retailers say under the Illinois Constitution, similar objects should be taxed uniformly. Under the sweetened beverage tax, drinks in a bottle, or from a fountain machine, are taxable. But on-demand, custom-sweetened beverages, such as those mixed by a server aren’t subject to the tax.