Seattle Sugary Drink Tax Take Effect: $10.34 Tax On $15.99 Purchase

download-8.jpgI have previously discussed my opposition to sugary drink bans or prohibitive taxation schemes in Chicago and New York.  While Cook County reluctantly yielded to public opinion and court decisions recently, Seattle has gone forward with a ridiculous tax of 1.75 cents per ounce on sugary drinks. This paternalistic law is designed to make such drinks economically undrinkable or at least unpalatable for citizens who do not share the views of the majority on beverages and health.  The result is that a large box of 35 bottles of Gatorade at Costco with a list price of $15.99 is now taxed at $10.34.  So almost $10.50 of the $26.50 price is taxes.


I have previously stated that I agree with the opposition to sugary drinks and the unhealthy consumption of such beverages. (We rarely let our kids have such drinks and I have literally not had a sugary soda in decades). However, that is our choice.  Too many politicians (largely on the left of the political spectrum) believe that they have a license to dictate (through either bans or prohibitive taxes) the lifestyles and choices of other citizens.  Liberals (who correctly balk at the government trying to dictate other aspects of their lives on issues of intimate relations or other health decisions) have no hesitation in “correcting” the bad choices of those with different priorities or lifestyles.  What you eat and drink is a lifestyle choice.  It is possible to consume sugary drinks and not be obese.

264 thoughts on “Seattle Sugary Drink Tax Take Effect: $10.34 Tax On $15.99 Purchase”

  1. Mountain Dew may become unaffordable to the little guy but, blame the rigged tax system in Washington, not the patchwork of regressive consumption taxes used to cover the state’s tax shortfall. When states like Washington have no income tax, the state’s communities have to raise revenue elsewhere. Before condemnation, we should know how the tax will be used e.g. (1) to provide housing for the car service drivers who take tech employees to work at businesses like Amazon and Microsoft and then, who sleep in their cars because housing is unaffordable (2) to build the road infrastructure Seattle desperately needs (working stiffs suffer while tied up in traffic, not Gates and Bezos) (3) to pay for a layer of profit raked in by school contractors (privatization deceptively called public which is promoted by Gates) (4) preparations and remediation for global warming, etc.

  2. If you’re against a sugar tax, then you have to also be against tobacco tax, which has gone a long way to curb lung cancer and other lethal diseases such as heart failure and stroke.

    Where the ill health effects of smoking are generally long-term, extra sugar consumption exacts its toll on the body immediately by leaching precious magnesium from soft tissue and bones. Without magnesium, the body cannot utilize calcium, which is vital to prevent osteoporosis, which we are now seeing in children who consume excessive amounts of sugar. Since magnesium is a cofactor in hundreds of bodily functions, it can be argued that excessive sugar consumption causes hundreds of diseases, many, if not most, of which medical science “believes” has no cure for.

    We have a mandatory seat-belt law to prevent injury and death, yet there are few food laws to prevent disease, which is now poised to bankrupt our nation via a greedy medical system that profits on illness. But bankruptcy prevention shouldn’t be the motivating factor. Instead, the health and welfare of our population, especially children, should be.

    If you can’t make a leap to one simple law that would dramatically improve the health and welfare of everyone in the country, then you are among the legions of intellectual misfits who have no problem with GMO, Roundup, fast- and antibiotic-laced food, and institutional and processed fare. Seriously, you don’t even have to do the research. Everyone should already know that huge amounts of magnesium are required to metabolize sugar. Inasmuch as Big Agriculture is too greedy to replenish soil with magnesium, virtually all plant food is magnesium deficient as well as, by extension, the population now, too.

    I’m a conservative who believes we can roll back big government spending by improving the health of the population.

    1. “I’m a conservative who believes we can roll back big government spending by improving the health of the population.”

      Are you sure of that? Can you provide how along with some numbers?

    2. Taxes do not curb cancer. The higher cost of taxes may prohibit higher consumption, but taxes aren’t raised for the purpose of improving health. By your logic, cigarettes and soda would be outlawed to reduce cancer. You don’t hear politicians talking like that, so their sole interest is revenue.

      1. For those that don’t understand statistics recognize that curing cancer will dramatically increase the number of people dying from heart disease.

        1. I think you meant “decrease”. Not to mention you’re avoiding my point. If you want to reduce cancer, why not outlaw all substances that are known to cause it?

          1. No, I meant exactly what I said and it is correct.

            Why should I become so involved in what other people choose to do with their lives? There are loads of substances that are able to kill people, but we don’t ban them. I might ban things that are dangerous to others, but I like people to have the ability to choose their own poison.

            1. Do you think I was initially replying to your post? I was replying to vinegart.

              1. Whatever you wish. Initially you were replying to vinegart as was I. The sequence and indentation reveal who was replying to whom thereafter unless an error was made in the posting. After the first post vinegart said nothing.

                I commented that “For those that don’t understand statistics recognize that curing cancer will dramatically increase the number of people dying from heart disease.” To which you responded with an indentation below what I said “I think you meant “decrease”.” To which I answered “No, I meant exactly what I said and it is correct.” and what I said is correct.

                If you were actually responding to vinegart and there was a posting error that is fine, but doesn’t change what I said.

  3. I read an interview with one of the Seattle council members who stated that the tax would be paid by the distributors, not collected by the retailers, and not passed on to the consumers. THAT’S the level of intelligence you’re dealing with here.

    1. We suffered having a mid-level manager who continually demonstrated his incompetence. I suggested that a monkey could perform better than he. To the surprise of my coworkers, I proved it.

      Over the course of a month, I determined that (if memory serves me correctly) around 70% of his decisions on whether or not to perform a certain way were wrong. If a monkey was given a random task where the outcome would be either a yes or a no, the monkey would be incorrect only 50% of the time. So the monkey would have a better rate of making good decisions yet would be happy to perform this service for only a few bananas. Because the monkey had a comparative advantage over the manager both in terms of efficacy and cost, he was the better choice for a manager.

      I am sure the same could be said of the city council’s voting record.

  4. Seattle was one of the first to drive away businesses …and will be under the new rules for no government grants on various sancturary and other federal law breaking BUT will be the first to ask for more money. They are second behind Boston for wasting tax dollars on major projects designed to increase traffic congestion and second behind San Francisco to feel the increased ICE raids. On that subject you can expect ICE agents to be waiting at the court house probably inside the court to make their apprehensions of the west coasts Catch, Convict and Release Policies.

    1. Seattle, as you know, raised minimum wage greatly. Afterwards they commissioned a study by the University of Washington in the hope it would show how much benefit it brought workers. The study concluded that the opposite happened for lower income individuals. Less hours were offered and of those on public assistance, many voluntarily worked less hours to prevent cuts to their benefits. Employers found ways to reduce staff through efficiency. The city vehemently opposed the study, claiming it was flawed. They then commissioned another study from a source known to churn the numbers to make it appear beneficial.

      Now, it is showing that this is becoming a strategic backfire for the council. Many national employers, especially in the fast food industry, are seeing this as a trend and are investing in technology to reduce workers. Wendy’s and either Burger King or Jack in the Box, plan to eliminate cashiers in the lobby by offering customers kiosks to enter their order and make payment. Since one $15.00 per hour full-time cashier will cost, with estimated payroll taxes and workers comp, $34,336 the technology to replace an employee quickly becomes cost effective.

      1. Oh come on Darren, extrapolate it on out with the rest of the conservative argument, “more people will be employed making the kiosks”.

        1. Actually, obviously, less people will be employed making the kiosk. You make one kiosk, you have replaced a worker in perpetuity. How long does it take a factory employee to make a single kiosk? How much of factory manufacturing jobs have been automated, as well?

          One of the reasons why I have become so frustrated with the Democratic Party is that they have a quite poor record of harming the very populations they purport to help.

            1. The “wealth gap”, or “income gap”, for Americans increased during the Obama administration.
              I didn’t even know he was a Republican….probably a “Koch Brothers plant”.

      2. From the council’s interest perspective, the only thing they did wrong was commission the first study. The report shows their desired minimum wage outcome was in fact performing exactly as intended: liberals gain power on the dependence of others. Maybe they weren’t expecting the university to be so honest with their report.

  5. It is just going to start a black market in soft drinks that have been imported from out of town.

    1. Out of town isn’t that far the businesses driven out of Business in Seattle often only have to cross the street to relocate. They also have a high unemployment rate caused by their anti business practices .

      1. Time to dump the exploiters. Prevent businesses from extorting corporate welfare from states, while disguising it as healthy competition between states. The fact is it shafts American labor and taxpayers.

  6. There are arguments from both the right and the left on this one. The problem with Seattle’s move here is it is too much all at once.

    From the left, yes, social engineering. However, from the right, ‘pay at the pump’. If the proceeds are used to fund healthcare, including caring for those with diabetes and low incomes, then the combination of high cost dissuasion and ‘pay at the pump’ contribution is a logical argument, both the left and right are present in this argument.

    Much of society has negative consequences for all stemming from use and abuse by a part only, regardless of the percentage. Some societies tax the gasoline used for the sacred ‘horse’ to fund rapid transit at a reasonable price for anyone who wishes to take advantage of traveling around with a smaller negative footprint. This makes sense for alcohol, pot, sugar, gasoline, and other commodities where the cost of the abuse of such is born by all. If one drinks moderately and soon smokes moderately then there is less chance they will be a burden on the health care system, they will be paying less tax, and still have their ‘rights’ preserved. If one drinks excessively then sure the tax will bite, and it should; better if the tax goes to offset the cost of such abuse. Compensating society for the indulgence of potentially harmful and unnecessary stuff is not tantamount to taking away rights.

    Seattle is going overboard but the concept is correct. Why should I pay for the health care of someone who drank and drinks excessively whether it be sodas, alcohol, or whatever. Tax the cr*p in society and use it to fund those basics that are, in a progressive world, rights: education, health care, government elections, etc.

    It is written nowhere that freedoms and rights should be abused and the consequences born by those other than those who abuse such freedoms and rights.

    1. “freedoms and rights should be abused and the consequences born by those other than those who abuse such freedoms and rights.”

      There should be a tax on annoying Canadians who move to the US.

    2. “Why should I pay for the health care of someone who drank and drinks excessively whether it be sodas, alcohol, or whatever.”

      You could aply this to anything. Why should I pay for the health care of someone who runs as hobby, plays hockey, etc…

      Your argument is exactly why the govt. should stay out of health insurance and our lives since once they get involved, I feel I have a say in how you live your life.

      1. Jim22

        The government is there to serve the people. Soft drinks and health insurance are two different things. Soft drinks represents free choice with no obligation whatsoever. Health insurance represents a next to mandatory, and lately mandatory obligation. Both affect all and are subject to government controls and financial issues. The US ranks 25 in the world in quality of health care but spends three times as much per capita more than most of the 24 ranked ahead of it. The US ranks next to last in efficiency of dollars spent on health care. This is because the health care industry in the US is left to the private sector and the government is out of it. The underlying theme of health care in the US is not quality but profit based on the cornerstone of the capitalist world, ‘what the market can/will bear’. Insurance companies are not in business to take care of the needs of the insured but to make profits and pay dividends. If you cannot see this then, back to school. In the more advanced nations where citizens spend a third per capita for better health care, it is because of government regulation and guidance. You have it backwards. Statistics, facts, and studies prove you to be 180 degrees wrong.

        As for sugar, it is purely a choice and has negative results on the health of those who consume too much. These negative results are as with any other commodity that is taxed for revenue to pay for associative infrastructure. People who drive on roads provided and maintained by the government pay for these roads through taxes on gasoline. Pay at the pump. It is a no brainer. People who smoke cigarettes pay for the expensive care partially through taxes on cigarettes. It stands to reason that now that a significant cost to all for diabetes health care costs is undoubtedly linked to sugar; the consumers of sugar should bear some of the direct costs. Taxes on alcohol should support treatment of those who abuse alcohol as well as general costs of health care.

        The issue of government is not size and to a large degree place but performance. Societies are build on layers. Taxes in general cover the costs of the basics. When specific areas can be seen to cost the society then the most appropriate source of revenue to offset these costs should come from those that cause the problems.

        Your argument of exaggerating the concept into every aspect of life is somewhat knee-jerk and exceptionally mindless, almost Trumpian. What’s wrong with the ‘cr*p’ tax imposed by Seattle is the level of cost. The concept makes perfect sense. It already exists to a degree in the concept of taxes that everyone pays on everything, regardless of effects. In this case, we all pay the health care costs of some who are more negligent than others. In stands to reason that those specifically responsible should contribute through enhanced and specific taxes. How much is the issue for discussion, not whether or not.

        We’re not talking about taxing every element of society. We’re talking about paying at the pump where appropriate. Or perhaps you would rather pay three times as much for the 25 best health care so that the CEOs of 1200+ parasitical health insurance companies can make millions and fuel their capitalist dreams. Ya need to think a bit, not so knee jerk.

        1. ” Health insurance represents a next to mandatory,”

          Health insurance is not healthcare. At best it helps to reserve a place in line or better leverage one’s assets.

          “US ranks 25 in the world in quality of health care”

          But, for the most part, has the best outcomes in the world (outcomes = will I live or die. will I get better or not.) (world in quality = equality of the regular folk not the elites and some other things. If all are treated equally with a bullet to the head the ratings improve.)

          “not quality but profit based on the cornerstone of the capitalist world,”

          Right, but only in your dreams. Do the Isaac’s of the world shop by offering more money for less quality? Of course not. Instead, they figure out the best value. Socialism means do things as cheap as possible because you are spending my money treating my neighbor.

          I didn’t read further for the ignorance displayed was bad for my health.

        2. “…This is because the health care industry in the US is left to the private sector and the government is out of it. The underlying theme of health care in the US is not quality but profit based on the cornerstone of the capitalist world, ‘what the market can/will bear’. Insurance companies are not in business to take care of the needs of the insured but to make profits and pay dividends….”

          Surely you jest. Surely. The corporatist government-healthcare-pharmaceuticals is responsible for runaway prices. The government is the enabler, not the other way around. Are doctors allowed to compete for services based on skill and success rate? Does not the government oversee pricing structures at hospitals and healthcare centers? Start with the AMA and move forward, then explain to me how it was ever a “private enterprise.” Yikes. It’s the same argument as the soda tax, just exponentially larger.

              1. He has an overblown opinion of his intellect and to protect that opinion he stays away from discussing the facts.

        3. “health care industry in the U.S. is left to the private sector and the government is out of it”.
          I’ll point this out again to Isaac, since it didn’t seem to sink on before.
          Government programs like MediCare, MediCaid, the VA system, CHIPS, etc. account for at least 50% of U.S. healthcare spending.
          The claim that “the government is out of it” is demonstrably false.

          1. Tom that cost is just the direct pay portion. Indirectly the government exerts significant control over the rest of healthcare as well. The funny thing is that everytime the government has a new program, costs rise substantially.

        4. Issac,
          You are practically comparing apples to oranges. European countries have a lower rate of chronic diseases due in part to their better culture around food, a greater tendency to be active, and, it wouldn’t surprise, they are very possibly not exposed to high amounts/kinds of toxic chemicals. The EU seems to ban far more chemicals than we do. Comparing these countries, with far smaller and more homogenous poplutions also makes it difficult to make good comparisons.

  7. “Seattle has gone forward with a ridiculous tax of 1.75 cents per ounce on sugary drinks. ”

    Is this correct? So a 12 oz can of Pepsi will cost $21 in tax?

    1. The tax about half the cost so a $15 purchase costs $30.00 meaning more lost business when you add such to the $15 minimum wage…. assuming any busineses are left open in Seatte. The Space needle revolving restaurant is now 95% presentation, 4% quality and 1% food on the plate.

        1. Jim22, it is $.0175/oz. JT said 1.75 cents per ounce, which is correct, but looks like a dollar 75 cents.
          Your 12 oz can of Pepsi would be taxed at 21 cents.

          1. Oops, totally read over that. I still must be celebrating the Vikings win in my mind I guess. Thanks

  8. Choose to kill your baby, well that’s my choice! Want a soda, that’s our choice.

    I’ve written before, why aren’t runners taxed? Most I know end up with knee issues which raises health insurance.

  9. Is it not ironic that while the progressive left wants to save our hearts and control our waistlines by limiting our consumption of sugar they are pushing aggressively to destroy our brains with the expansion of legalized marijuana?

    1. When you turn into a brainless slug you are much easier to control. which is the whole point. Dumb them down and dope them up.

  10. I expect merchants will lose so much money over this effete, absurd regulation that it may be quietly scuttled ‘ere long. As well stated above by Darren Smith, people will still buy sugary drinks – but elsewhere. This will not change lifestyles (except for the poor, who are unable to drive out of town or shop online) but it will hurt business income and thus other tax revenue in Seattle.

    1. San Francisco made it illegal to charge ATM fees.some years ago. The small stores that had such machines simply raised their prices across the board on all items so everyone shared in the use it or not costs. I did work a second job some years ago in a convenience and gas station store. When the minimum wage went up many of the delivery drivers were on a contract based on minimum wage. Noi problem the manufacturers decreased the amount of product in the box or wrapper and the store increased the price for everyone.

      1. The left cannot understand that the marketplace is like a balloon. Squeeze on one side and it pops out on another side unless the balloon is squeezed so hard it bursts. Then there is nothing.

          1. It is true that Seatle is growing mostly due to certain industries that settled there, but at the same time, there is a homelessness crisis, severe traffic congestion, a middle class that is being displaced from their homes, etc. That might make city government feel good, but government frequently forgets about the people they are supposed to serve.

            The city has to handle its growth very carefully but based upon today’s blog and some other things Seatle did I don’t think they are preparing for the long term, just long enough until those that run the city have retired.

  11. What a great black market for Seattle’s citizens. All you need is a van and a $100
    To make a tidy profit that hurts no one. Screw the nanny state!

    1. Please leave Ohio and take Kasich with you. Years of gerrymandered Republican control and, Ohioans have not seen unemployment reduced. They haven’t seen wages increased. They’ve been bilked out of more than $1 bil. for contractor schools with 75% truancy rates. The state’s main claim to fame- the most drug overdose deaths.

    2. Ohio J.,…
      The Seattle City Council may direct the Seattle PD to establish a Glucose Task Force to crack down on black market sugar sales.

  12. Once again the city council of Seattle proves itself to be among the most contemptuous in Washington. They will stop at nothing to tax and control everyone and anything they do not like. They ran the firearms dealers out of town with taxation, and somehow violent crime rose while tax revenue plunged, Now, its the latest trend for highly taxing pop. Next it will be pancake syrup. Heck why stop there and go after Pocky and Potluck dinners at the neighbor’s?

    The tax is purely asinine on so many levels, but unfortunately the population consists of too many liberals in Seattle who just kotow to whatever the city council commands to them, I don’t see the tax changing.

    Years ago, the Department of Revenue hit retailers with an unworkable tax on candy where it forced, if complied with fully, retailers to calculate tax based on the ingredients, such as sugar, wheat, etc. There was actual pushback from retailers and the public so the legislature restructured the taxation to make it workable from an accounting perspective. Unfortunately, this is Seattle and they crave taxation there. If the legislature ratified a Seattle style pop tax statewide, the tar and feathers would be heading to Olympia by the truckload.

    The workaround as described in the Costco sign is to simply drive out of town to Bellevue, Burien, or Lynnwood and buy ALL your groceries from those businesses. The best way, other than the tar and feathers, to stop this tax will be for everyone to abandon shopping for groceries in the city limits. It will hurt merchants but they will pressure the council members to get their act together and repeal this tax.

    Another workaround is to buy seltzer and add flavorings to it.

    1. I wonder if a workaround wouldn’t be to buy the drinks from Costco online and pick them up at Costco.

    1. That would be “unfair” to the poor that don’t have cars. Maybe the Seatle Council is discriminating against poor people.

  13. While I don’t agree with their reasoning, liberals claim that bedroom behavior does not affect society and therefor should not be regulated, while obesity is a public health menace, driving up health care costs, and should be regulated as a public benefit. I think it is nonsense and that regulating social policy through taxation is anethema. I would include in that tax policies that encourage home ownership, which is actually beneficial mainly to home building corporations.

    1. There is a difference. Libs can’t make money off others’ bedroom behavior, but boy oh boy they can rake in some good dough from sugary drinks. Just like cigarettes. Libs humanitarianism extends only so far as there’s no profit for them.

      1. Ken, it’s time to get over the fact that no one wants your body. Maybe you need to go to a farm for some companionship.

  14. Will the liberals attempts at social engineering ever quit? Probably not. It is amazing to me how much smarter elected politicians are than the rest of us – the unwashed – immediately after they are elected. The just can’t keep they hands off anything.

    1. That’s what you get for voting progessively regressive socialists into office all of whom have rejected their USA citizenship.

      Back to Seattle. The city refused to build a new stadium since the king dome was still unpaid for. The effort moved to the state capitol where they funded the new base ball and football stadium right at the intersection of I-5, I-90 and the cross sound ferry system vie with the trains and no longer high speed rail Billions wasted only too increase congestion. Rush hour is now 4AM to 9PM and that’s no yolk.

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