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Seattle soda tax raises $10 million in six months

Seattle's sugary beverage tax revenues exceed expectations, raising $10 million in its first six months.
Credit: KING

After passing the tax in January 2018, Seattle's soda tax has raised over $10.5 million in its first six months.

The Seattle Times reports the City of Seattle's Finance and Administrative Services department recorded $4.7 million in first-quarter payments and $5.8 million in second-quarter payments. Since some businesses file their taxes annually instead of quarterly, the tax revenue is expected to rise well beyond initial estimates.

The tax, which imposes 1.75 cents per fluid ounce on sugary drinks, was only expected to gross about $14.8 million in its first year, according to The Seattle Times.

The tax concerns non-milk based drinks and was imposed to reduce the amount of sugary beverages consumed in the city. Supporters of the tax cited the strong link between the consumption of sugary beverages and health problems such as obesity and diabetes.

Exempted from the tax are milk-based drinks such as lattes and drinks produced by small businesses. Rachel's Ginger Beer is one of the Seattle companies exempted from the soda tax.

Before the tax was applied, a survey found that a majority of adults in the local area supported the tax however it was less popular among African and Asian Americans and people with lower incomes.

Whether or not the tax if effective is currently being studied. $520,000 from the tax's revenue has been set aside to fund research conducted by the University of Washington analyzing the effects of the soda tax on Seattle's population and businesses. A recent baseline report was released analyzing the initial effects of the tax.

Since the tax revenue is so high, there is speculation as to whether or not the tax is actually working to dissuade people from purchasing sugary beverages.

While many storefront and restaurant owners opposed the tax, it passed the Seattle City Council with a 7-1 margin after the initiative passed.

Overall, Seattle's soda consumption is lower than the national average and many of those who voted for the tax stated that they had public health in mind when voting to approve it.

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