Seattle Passes Sweetened Beverage Tax

The Seattle City Council passed a sweetened beverage tax on June 5, 7-1.

The 1.75-cent-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages is expected to raise nearly $23 million in its first year for health initiatives.

The tax will be levied on all distributors who sell certain drinks within city limits beginning Jan. 1, 2018.

Currently, restaurants pay about $75 for a 5-gallon bag of soda syrup. Because the tax is on finished ounces, it will add about $67.20 to the price of the bag of syrup. This is a significant impact to a budget line item for a small restaurant.

The Seattle Restaurant Alliance sought to collaborate with the Seattle City Council to address the impact of the sweetened beverage tax on Seattle’s small, locally owned restaurants.
Restaurants operate at very slim profit margins – about 4 percent annually.

Under this new ordinance, the tax on soda syrups will cost more than the product itself in most cases.

We are disappointed in the council’s rush to push this legislation through without working with businesses to identify additional solutions. Because of the unanswered questions about the wide-ranging effects of this proposal, we had hoped for a more thoughtful process.

We’ll have an in-depth summary of the new tax and resources in the coming weeks to help members prepare. Questions? jillianh@wahospitality.org

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