Court Rules That Perrier Is Soda, Not Water and Can Be Taxed

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: May 04, 2024

A Pennsylvania court has ruled that Perrier is not French mineral water — it is soda. Since it is no longer identified as water, it can now be taxed.

This court ruling came down after Jennifer Montgomery filed a petition in 2019 after buying a Perrier bottle and being taxed 24 cents. 

Perrier’s Court Case

In 2019, Montgomery bought a 16-ounce Perrier bottle in Pennsylvania at a convenience store. Upon buying this French mineral water, she realized that she was taxed 24 cents.

Advertisement
An up-close look at a green Perrier bottle.

Source: Jason Jarrach/Unsplash

This eventually led her to file two separate petitions with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue Board of Appeals. 

Advertisement

A Sales Tax Refund

Montgomery’s desire? She wanted a refund of the 24 cents that she had paid when buying this Perrier bottle. According to Montgomery, mineral water is not taxable in the United States.

Advertisement
Many different kinds of Perrier beverages in cans.

Source: ibuki Tsubo/Unsplash

Therefore, she stated that she shouldn’t have paid any tax on her purchase, as Perrier labels itself as a French mineral water beverage. 

Why Water Isn’t Taxed

For the most part, bottled water has never had any added sales tax attached to it. This is because water is deemed something that we all need for survival. It’s necessary.

Advertisement
An up-close look at the top white caps of many water bottles.

Source: Jonathan Chng/Unsplash

Of course, if companies add anything to regular water — such as sugars, sweeteners, or flavors — then the water can have added sales taxes on it.

Montgomery’s Court Filings

Because mineral water technically isn’t supposed to be taxed, Montgomery decided to make these two filings to Pennsylvania. However, that’s not all she did.

Advertisement
A clear plastic water bottle on a dark surface.

Source: Steve Johnson/Unsplash

Montgomery also started a class action lawsuit against Sheetz, the convenience store where she bought her Perrier bottle, for the same reason. 

Perrier Is a Soft Drink

Now, the court has decided on whether Perrier is water or a soft drink — and, therefore, whether it should be subject to sales tax or not. Back in 2019, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue Board of Appeals decided that Perrier is a carbonated water.

A green Perrier bottle next to a clear Evian bottle.

Source: Paras Kapoor/Unsplash

As a result, Perrier is considered a soft drink. This means it should be subject to sales tax. However, Montgomery filed an appeal against this decision. 

Advertisement

French Mineral Water?

Perrier has long labeled itself as French mineral water, as well as “carbonated mineral water.” According to the company, this water comes from the South of France.

Trees and green leaves seen in front of a spring in France.

Source: Mélanie THESE/Unsplash

The water is “sourced underground and bottled at the site where it emerges.” This water is also “naturally carbonated”, rather than artificially. In her court filings, Montgomery used these points in her argument about why Perrier shouldn’t be considered a soft drink. 

Advertisement

Appeals Court’s Finding

The Pennsylvania court again found that Perrier is a soft drink — even though Montgomery stated that Perrier is a “natural mineral water.”

A close-up of a green Perrier bottle next to other bottles.

Source: Sam Hojati/Unsplash

According to the court, Perrier is a soft drink, that includes any “nonalcoholic beverage, in either powder or liquid form, whether or not carbonated, such as soda water, ginger ale, colas, root beer, flavored water, artificially carbonated water, orangeade, lemonade, juice drinks containing less than 25% by volume.”

Advertisement

What the Court Found

However, the Court in Pennsylvania disagreed with Montgomery. The Court found that Perrier uses the same process on its water that Coca-Cola and Pepsi use on their products.

A close-up of a red Coca-Cola can in front of a black background.

Source: Jeanson Wong/Unsplash

Court documents said, “The term ‘carbonate’ means ‘to combine or infuse with carbon dioxide.’ Perrier is carbonated water because it is manufactured by combining a specific amount of filtered or scrubbed carbonic gas to still water in an industrial plant setting.”

Advertisement

What the Government Says

The United States Food and Drug Administration also stated that Perrier isn’t naturally carbonated, as the company claims. This is because the bubbles in the drink aren’t found in the bottle when the water is pulled out of the ground.

A busy street seen in Washington, D.C. with the Capitol seen in the distance.

Source: Maria Oswalt/Unsplash

These bubbles only appear when carbon dioxide is added to the water — and this occurs at a bottling factory. 

Advertisement

Perrier Doesn’t Naturally Have Bubbles

These findings have declared that Perrier doesn’t naturally have bubbles — or, it’s not naturally carbonated — when the water is originally sourced from a spring in Vergeze, France.

An up-close look at the bubbles in a sparkling water beverage.

Source: Giorgio Trovato/Unsplash

Only in Perrier’s factory do these bubbles arise. Thus, it is similar to other soda brands, such as Coca-Cola. This means it can have sales tax added to it. 

Advertisement

Perrier’s Response

Nestle, the parent company of Perrier, has come out with a statement about this ongoing court issue, clarifying that they have nothing to do with any of these lawsuits.

Many green Perrier bottles seen together.

Source: Snowacinesy/Wikimedia Commons

“We are not involved in the lawsuit and have not provided any information related to it. All Perrier products are labeled in accordance with applicable laws and regulations,” a Nestle spokesperson stated. 

Advertisement