Study: 97 percent of Seattle soda tax passed on to consumers

SEATTLE (AP) — A new report estimates that nearly 100 percent of Seattle's new tax on the distribution of sweetened beverages has been passed on to consumers through higher in-store prices.

The Seattle Times reports that sodas have increased in price more than sugar-sweetened juices and bottled coffee drinks, and smaller stores have increased their prices more than supermarkets, according to the report by University of Washington researchers.

Additionally, some smaller stores have increased their prices even for beverages not subject to the tax, such as diet sodas.

Seattle's tax of 1.75 cents per fluid ounce, which took effect in January 2018, is charged to distributors of sugar-sweetened beverages. Distributors can pass the tax on to stores and stores can pass the tax on to consumers.

The city has collected nearly $17 million in the first nine months of its tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, exceeding what the tax was expected to raise in its first year.

Across all beverages and Seattle stores surveyed, an average 97 percent of the tax was passed on to consumers.

Some, but not all, of the money raised from the tax will fund healthy-food and early-learning programs, community-college scholarships and administrative costs.

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