Investing in Seattle’s Diverse Communities

Seattle’s tax on sweetened beverages benefits food access, early learning, and education programs

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Seattle’s Sweetened Beverage Tax (SBT) was implemented in January 1, 2018.

Why did Seattle pass this tax?

Research has shown that sugary drinks can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke, weight gain and tooth decay. Taxing sugary drinks reduces their sales and consumption. It will also raise tax revenue from sales on sugar-sweetened beverages to help improve access to healthy food and fund programs and services for families with children ages 5 and younger.

What types of beverages are subject to the Sweetened Beverage Tax?

Non-taxed Beverages

  • Diet drinks

  • Bottled water

  • 100% juice

  • Milk (including soy, rice, almond, coconut)

  • Beverages for medical use

  • Infant or baby formula

  • Alcoholic beverages

Regular sodas

  • Regular sodas

  • Energy and sport drinks

  • Fruit drinks

  • Sweetened waters

  • Pre-sweetened coffees and teas

  • Syrups and concentrates used to make sugary drinks in coffee shops, restaurants and fast food

Sweetened Beverage Tax Community Advisory Board

The Sweetened Beverage Tax Community Advisory Board was established by the City Council (Ordinance 125324) to advise and make recommendations to the Mayor and City Council on programs and services supported by the tax revenue. 

BOARD ACTIONS

Tax Revenue / Projections

In the first year the tax was initially projected to raise $15 million, which it surpassed and is looking to be just over $20 million. The revenues are an indication of current distribution volumes into the City, but tell us nothing about volumes before the tax or about the change after the tax. The revenue was forecast was intentionally conservative given the lack of Seattle-specific consumption data available.

Evaluation

Although the City collected more revenue than it originally estimated we cannot conclude from the revenues whether there has been any change in the consumption of sugary beverages. The Evaluation of the Sweetened Beverage Tax includes a study that is assessing the impact of the tax on children’s beverage consumption. This study is underway and findings from data collected six and twelve months after tax implementation will be available by end of 2019.

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