Anne's Place in Fishtown warns customers sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages will increase in price because of the soda tax.

So you’re at the corner store looking for something delicious and cheap to drink. Under Philadelphia’s new sugar-sweetened beverage tax, it’ll cost you more than it did in 2016.

The tax went into effect Jan. 1 and already the full cost of the tax, which is levied as 1.5 cents per ounce on distributors, is being passed through to consumers at many establishments. Example: A gallon of sweetened tea that cost $1.77 now goes for $3.69 because of an added $1.92 in tax.  

But what drinks are actually going to cost you more because of the tax? Well, a lot of them. Any drink containing a sugar-based sweetener (i.e. natural sugar, high fructose corn syrup) falls under the tax, as does any drink with an artificial sweetener. Some of the few exceptions are drinks comprised of greater than 50 percent milk or greater than 50 percent fruit or vegetables or a combination of both.   

Here’s a list of some of the most popular beverages likely to cost you more — and the few that won’t.


Shelves are stocked with sugary drinks at Cousins Grocery Store in Philadelphia. Credit: Anna Orso/Billy Penn


All sodas and diet sodas are subject to the sugary sweetened beverage tax, including cans, bottles, two-liters, cases and fountain sodas. (That doesn’t include sparkling waters.) Here are some of the most popular items subject to the tax:

  • A&W Root Beer
  • Canada Dry
  • Coke/ Pepsi products including diet, Coke Zero, etc.
  • Dr. Pepper
  • Fresca
  • Mountain Dew
  • Mug Root Beer
  • Schweppes Ginger Ale
  • Stewart’s
  • Sierra Mist/ Sprite/ 7 Up
  • Sunkist

Energy drinks


All energy drinks are subject to tax under the new beverage tax law, including:

  • 5-hour Energy
  • Amp
  • Monster
  • Mountain Dew Kickstart
  • Red Bull
  • Rockstar
  • SoBe Energize
  • Starbucks Doubleshot


Credit: Flickr


Fruit juices, punches and lemonade that are less than 50 percent fruit and/ or vegetable juice. That includes popular drinks like:

  • Arizona fruit punches and juices (most of which are less than 50 percent juice)
  • Capri Sun
  • Goya
  • Hawaiian Punch
  • Hi-C
  • Little Hug
  • Minute Maid juices and punches that are less than 50 percent juice, including some punches and lemonades
  • Mistic
  • Nantucket Nectars
  • Ocean Spray juices that are less than 50 percent juice, including Cranberry, Cran Apple and similar beverages
  • Snapple juices less than 50 percent juice, including “Apple Drink” and Island Punch
  • Starbucks bottled refreshers
  • Sunny Delight
  • Tropicana fruit juices that are less than 50 percent juice, including Tropical Punch and Tropicana Twisters
  • V8 Splash juices less than 50 percent juice, including Apple Medley and Grape
  • Welch’s juices (both diet, low-cal and regular) less than 50 percent juice, including Grape and White Grape juices

Not taxed

  • Orange juice: For the most part, orange juices are close to 100 percent pure, such as those by Minute Maid, Simply Orange and Tropicana. Orange drink like you’d find from Hi-C or Sunny Delight is taxed.
  • Tomato juice: If you’re going for straight-up tomato juice, you should be good with any brand. But beware, some V8 or other brand beverages that add fruit to tomato juice can be taxed.
  • Apple juice and apple cider: Top brands like Musselman and Simply Balanced are not taxed. Minute Maid Apple Coolers and most every drink mixing apple juice with another type of fruit juice are taxed.

Alcohol mixers

Alcoholic beverages are not taxed, regardless of their sugar content. However, mixers that feature sugar-based sweeteners or artificial sugar substances are taxed.


Most Margarita mixes, such as those by Jose Cuervo and Margaritaville

Not Taxed

  • V8 Bloody Mary mix

Sports drinks

Credit: Flickr


All sports drinks contain some amount of sugar substance or artificial sweetener. They are all taxed.

  • Gatorade
  • Powerade
  • G2
  • Vitamin Water
  • Glaceau
  • Propel

Teas and Coffee drinks


According to the law, a tea or coffee drink is subject to the tax if it has “any form of caloric sugar-based sweetener, including, but not limited to, sucrose, glucose or high fructose corn syrup or any form of artificial sugar substitute, including stevia, aspartame, sucralose, neotame, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), saccharin, and advantame.” That includes popular regular and diet items like:

  • Arizona Green Tea, Peach Tea and Sweet Tea
  • Brisk sweetened and flavored teas
  • Country Time iced tea
  • Frappucinos (the pre-bottled kind)
  • Fuze flavored teas
  • Gold Peak flavored and sweetened teas
  • Honest Tea Half Tea and Kombucha
  • International Delight Iced Coffee
  • Lipton sweetened and flavored teas
  • Pom Wonderful teas
  • Snapple sweetened and flavored teas, including Green Tea, Half & Half, Lemon Tea and Sweet Tea
  • Starbucks iced coffees and refreshers (the pre-bottled ones)
  • Sweet Leaf sweetened and flavored teas
  • Tazo sweetened and flavored teas
  • Turkey Hill sweetened and flavored teas
  • V8 Iced Tea
  • Wawa sweetened and flavored teas, including Iced Tea, Green Tea and Sweet Tea

Not taxed

  • Plain teas and coffees without a sugar-based or artificial sweetener



  • Arctic Splash

*We’re not sure if Arctic Splash is really tea.

Mark Dent is a reporter/curator at BillyPenn. He previously worked for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where he covered the Jerry Sandusky scandal, Penn State football and the Penn State administration. His...