On January 1, the City of Seattle put into effect a new city-wide drink tax that will enforce distributors to pay 1.75 cents extra per ounce on soda and sugary drinks, driving up prices for consumers and worsening income inequality in Seattle.
Neighborhood businesses faced with the new tax are mostly small businesses, restaurants or conveniences stores with owners who are worried about their businesses’ bottom line. The tax predominantly impacts working-class families and low-income consumers, overall worsening the income inequality across Seattle.
The newly enforced tax was passed in June 2017 by the Seattle City Council and will not include diet drinks and sweetened products from certified manufacturers with an annual worldwide gross revenue of $2 million or less. Products from certified manufacturers with similar revenue of more than $2 million but less than $5 million will face paying a 1-cent-per-fluid ounce tax.
The tax is intended for distributors of the products, but will impact customers who will likely see a price increase on their receipt when they purchase most beverages including sports drinks, energy drinks, soda, and juice boxes. However, there has been increasing confusion among consumers and business owners about which sweetened beverages are taxed. For example, milk is the determining factor for coffee-shop beverages and certain grocery products. According to Seattle’s Finance and Administrative Services Department, products with milk listed as the first ingredient are exempt from the new tax.
This unfair beverage tax will hurt Seattle small businesses and potentially cost employees their jobs. Visit Keep Seattle Livable For All for more information and ways to share your voice regarding the damaging effects of the newly imposed tax.