Bill would end tax break for firms selling junk food to kids

Legislation introduced Thursday in the House would prohibit companies that market unhealthy food to children to claim certain tax deductions.

The bill, penned by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), wouldn’t bar food manufacturers from marketing their products to anyone they choose.

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But companies who sell food out of line with federal dietary guidelines would be unable to write off expenses stemming from advertising campaigns directed at children, including TV and radio spots, celebrity endorsements and a range of promotions.

“Taxpayers should not continue to subsidize a tax loophole that allows companies to deduct expenses for marketing unhealthy foods to kids,” DeLauro said in a statement.

The bill would require a tax code change in consultation with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Trade Commission.

Marketing would be considered directed to kids if 35 percent of the audience is 17 or younger.

DeLauro said the legislation is aimed at improving the health of America’s overweight youth.

“Even as adult obesity doubled in recent years, we saw childhood obesity triple,” she said. "Addressing the complex issues underlying this epidemic will require a multi-faceted approach, and this bill is one piece of that approach.”