POLICY DATABASE
Policy Summary

This policy establishes an excise tax of $0.0175 per fluid ounce on most distributors of sweetened beverages and directs some of the revenues to programs that expand access to healthy and affordable food, close the food security gap, and/or promote healthy food choices.

Background Information

State Washington
Jurisdiction Name Seattle
Jurisdiction Type City,
Population Size 200,000-800,000
Legal Strategies
  • Creates an incentive for a change
  • Requires something, sets standards
Reach Community-wide
Food System Category Distribute; Get;

Policy Details

Refers to priority populations?
Yes

See references about uses of the tax revenue for "closing the food security gap" and "reduc[ing] the disparities in [health] outcomes for children and families based on race, gender, or other socioeconomic factors." § 5.53.055.B.1,.2.

Health-related goal?
Yes

See references to healthy food and promoting healthy food choices. § 5.53.055.B.1.

Environmental goal?
Unclear

Although the excise tax is on sweetened beverages, one of the possible uses of the revenue is to "ensur[e] resources for the Office of Sustainability and the Environment." § 5.53.055.B.4.

Economic goal?
Yes

See references to "community-based investments to expand food access, such as food banks …" and "Fresh Bucks and Fresh Bucks to Go." § 5.53.055.B.1.a,.b.

Includes findings?
No

Has a stated intent or purpose?
No

Includes definitions?
Yes

§ 5.53.020.

Addresses implementation?
Yes

The Director of Finance and Administrative Services is authorized and directed to make rules to implement the policy. § 5.55.165.

Enforcement provisions?
Yes

Violators are subject to fines and possible criminal prosecution. § 5.55.220.

Evaluation component?
Unclear

The policy makes reference to "program evaluations conducted by the Office of the City Auditor," but does not describe a reporting or review process of the evaluations. § 5.53.055.B.5.

Requires extra investment?
Yes

The policy notes costs associated with "[a]dministration of assessing and collecting the tax" and "program evaluations conducted by the Office of the City Auditor, including costs borne by other City departments in facilitating such evaluations." § 5.53.055.B.3,.5.

Code context and ordinance history

This policy is located in Seattle, Washington Code of Ordinances, Title 5 - Revenue, Finance and Taxation, Subtitle II - Taxes, Chapter 5.53 - Sweetened Beverage Tax. History: Ord. 125324 , § 2, 2017; Ord. 125886 , § 2, 2019.

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