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Concerned business owners urge Seattle mayor to rethink soda tax


More than 150 small business owners in Seattle sent a letter to the Mayor of Seattle asking him to reconsider his soda tax.

RELATED: Higher sales tax goes into effect across Puget Sound

The soda tax would slap on an extra two cents per ounce for distributors. Jim Cullinan with the Washington Beverage Association says that’s way too high.

“A 2-liter bottle that could be on sale for 99 cents would be hit with a tax of $1.36. That is more tax than for the product itself,” he said.

Restaurant and convenience store owners say they would be forced to pass along the additional costs to customers. They would also have to cut jobs.

But supporters say the tax would cut down on consumption of sugary drinks and pay for much-needed education programs.

Mayor Ed Murray announced the proposed soda tax in February during his 2017 State of the City Address. According to Murray, the tax would fund new investments into education as recommended by the Education Summit Advisory Group.

Those recommendations would be “aimed at reducing disparities between white and African-American students and other historically underrepresented students of color,” according to the mayor.

Products subject to the tax would include:

• Liquids with a specified amount of caloric sweetener, syrups, and powders that are used to prepare sugary beverages
• Sodas (such as Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew)
• Energy and sports drinks (such as Monster, Red Bull, Gatorade, Powerade)
• Fruit drinks (such as Sunny D)
• Sweetened teas and ready-to-drink coffee drinks (such as Arizona, Starbucks)

The ordinance exempts beverages such as those with 100 percent fruit juice, in-store prepared coffee beverages, infant formula, medicine, and would not apply to “diet” beverages.

The tax would not apply to diet sodas.

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