Why some sugary drinks are exempt from Seattle’s new sugar tax

Jan 2, 2018, 6:03 AM
soda tax...
(File, MyNorthwest)
(File, MyNorthwest)

By Joanna Small

It’s something coffee lovers may be pleased to hear. If you buy any drink from a Seattle coffee shop where milk is the first ingredient it will not be subject to the new sugar tax, even if the drink is chock full of sugar.

RELATED: Seattle to waste $500K to ignore soda tax study

We took that information to coffee drinkers inside Café Ladro on Capitol Hill. That’s where we met Etienne Monas who relishes variety in his coffee consumption.

“A vanilla latte, in the summer an iced vanilla or caramel or something like that,” he said of some of his favorite drinks, but he’s tried all the sugar-free and sugar-filled syrups.

“Personally, I feel if people want to drink sugar, let them,” Monas explained.

He expected Seattle’s new sugar tax would apply to his beverages of choice, but in most cases it doesn’t.

According to the city’s newest tax law, sugary drinks like lattes and mochas are exempt provided their first ingredient is milk.

Even distributors of the syrup that is added to coffee drinks can be exempt as long as the shop uses that syrup in a milk-based drink.

Things get even more confusing though when you start talking about blended drinks like Frappuccinos. The first ingredient there is ice, not milk, so the tax does apply.

The big stories to watch for in 2018

Monas says regardless, he’s not changing his drinking habits; he refuses to be taxed out of options.

“It’s sort of like when the price of gas goes up what are you going to do? Stop driving? You’re not going to have to drink it but you’re going to – I’m going to. If they raised the price on my favorite food I would incorporate that into my budget. It happens, life goes on.”

Local News

MyNorthwest Staff

Instance of monkeypox investigated in King County amid ‘growing international outbreak’

A presumptive case of monkeypox is being investigated in King County, according to Public Health, Seattle and King County.
21 hours ago
KIRO Newsradio Newsdesk

As pandemic-fueled surge in online shopping slows, Amazon subleases warehouse space

Amazon is planning to sublease some of its warehouse space now that the pandemic-fueled surge in online shopping has eased.
21 hours ago
People donate blood at Bloodworks Northwest on March 17, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Kar...
MyNorthwest Staff

Blood platelet shortage impacting medical treatments amid lack of donors

Ongoing since the pandemic, the blood platelet shortage is reaching critical levels as deliveries are being rationed among local hospitals.
21 hours ago
MyNorthwest Staff

Gun violence prompts early summer closures of Golden Gardens and Alki Beach

Golden Gardens and Alki Beach will close at 10 p.m. May 27 through Sept. 4 over concerns of gun violence in years past.
21 hours ago
Dalton Day

Seattle loses battle over Burke-Gilman Trail’s ‘missing link’ as project funds sunset

A spate of legal challenges over the 1.4-mile stretch of the Burke-Gilman Trail's missing link jeopardizes its completion.
21 hours ago
Frank Sumrall

Number of King County homeless up nearly 14% since 2020, 57% remain unsheltered

In 2020, the percentage of homeless who had access to shelter on a consistent basis was 53%. Now the amount of homeless with shelter is just 43%.
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Why some sugary drinks are exempt from Seattle’s new sugar tax