LOCAL NEWS

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.

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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.”

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