Seattle's new tax on sugary drinks kicks in on New Year's Day



Soda giants PepsiCo and Coca-Cola aren’t going to like this. Voters in four U.S. cities overwhelmingly passed a soda tax, and more taxes could be coming. Sean Dowling (@seandowlingtv) has more.

Attention Coke and Pepsi fans: Seattle’s tax on sugary drinks takes effect on New Year’s Day.

Joining a handful of other U.S. locales with similar levies, Seattle voters enacted a 1.75 cents-per-fluid-ounce tax on the distribution of sodas and other sweetened beverages such as sports drinks and energy drinks in June. That amounts to 21 cents tacked on to every 12-ounce can or bottle, but it’s distributors who pay the tax.

The city tax exempts diet drinks and sweetened products from certified manufacturers with 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.  .

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Supporters argued the levy would reduce consumer consumption of sugary drinks that have little nutritional value and have been linked to obesity, diabetes, and other health problems in some studies.

Businesses and labor groups that opposed the tax argued it would hurt small businesses and cost jobs. Additionally, other critics said the tax would hit low-income consumers the most.

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Seattle is among a handful of municipalities nationwide that have voted in favor of soda taxes. Since Berkeley, Calif., enacted such a levy in 2015, seven other municipalities, including San Francisco and Philadelphia, have backed similar taxes, according to  Real Food Media, an advocacy group that promotes “sustainability and equity along the food chain.”

The Chicago area’s Cook County enacted a similar soda tax earlier this year but scrapped it in October amid business opposition.

Contributing: Associated Press

Follow USA TODAY reporter Kevin McCoy on Twitter: @kmccoynyc



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