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How will Seattle’s new soda tax impact small businesses and customers?


By: KIRO 7 Web Staff, Essex Porter

Seattle became the ninth area of the country to pass a sugary drink tax, with a 7-1 vote Monday that imposes a 1.75-cents-per-ounce levy on distributors.

Seattle’s Mayor Ed Murray signed the new soda tax into law Tuesday.

The owner of White Center’s Boss Burger will have to figure out how to handle the 1.75 percent soda tax that takes effect in January.

It will apply to every 5-gallon box of the syrup connected to the soda fountain.

Ryan Hopkins told us, “Additional price with the tax is about 60 extra dollars for a box. Very close to double.”

But Hopkins says he won’t double the retail price of drinks.

“For us, this is one of my four product categories here in to raise the price double on it is just not something I can do. I can’t lose that business and then lose the food business along the way,” he said.

Hopkins points to figures from Councilmember Lisa Herbold’s office.

They show liquor, cigarettes and marijuana taxed anywhere from 39-33 percent of the purchase price. But a 5-gallon box of soda syrup will be taxed at 47 percent of the purchase price.

That’s one of the reasons Hopkins wants voters to roll back the tax at the ballot box.

“A referendum is in my opinion a must and we’ve already gotten word that action’s taking place and on the way,” Hopkins said.

But children’s health advocates joined Mayor Ed Murray when he signed the tax into law today. And Councilmember Tim Burgess said it doesn’t go too far.

“I’m sure there’s a line, but this sugary beverage tax isn’t close to that line,” he said.

Diet soda won’t be taxed, but may not be much cheaper.

“It seems kind of weird for me to charge a lot less for a diet than it does for a regular soda,” Hopkins said.

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