Building an Economy that Works for Everyone

WA budget tiebreaker: Legislators should hit the bottle (tax) and go home

ShareTo close the gap between the House and Senate revenue proposals, lawmakers should bury their differences over the bottle: that is, they should vote to tax bottled beverages at a penny an ounce, then head home to their districts for some well-deserved rest.

A 1 cent per oz. tax  (wholesale, not retail) on soft drinks — that’s soda, sweetened teas, power drinks, etc., both regular and diet, with fruit beverages and those containing milk or milk substitutes excluded — would raise $258.5 million. A 1 cent per oz. tax (again, wholesale, not retail) on  bottled water (wholesale) would raise another $134.7 million.

That’s enough for the Senate to keep what it wants (a $50 million exemption for big banks on mortgage loan interest; a $41.5 million sales tax exemption on out state shoppers; and a $76.5 million exemption on custom software) and for the House to get what it wants (no general increase in the sales tax, worth about $220 million give or take).

Will these taxes reduce sales of bottled fizzy sweet drinks and water? Yes. And that’s a good thing.

It will be better for our pocketbooks:

Bottled water costs 2,000 times what tap water costs, and up to 40 percent of mass-produced bottled water brands, like Aquafina and Dasani, originate from the same source as tap water. What’s more, tap water is subject to more regulations than bottled water. Americans buy more than half a billion bottles of water every week when it already flows from the tap. [Ed.: Let’s see, Washington’s share of that would be…about 10 million bottles a week!]

It will be better for our bodies:

Adults who do drink one or more sodas or other sugar-sweetened beverages each day are 27% more likely to be overweight or obese. The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day, vs the recommended 5-9. That 200-400% more than recommended. If you think that’s a high number, just one 20 fl oz single use bottle of soda has 17 teaspoons of sugar. Almost half of the additional calories growth in our diet since the 1970’s come from soda.

And far better for the planet:

The manufacture and disposal of millions of plastic water bottles…uses enough oil to fuel a million cars for a year, and about 80% of used water bottles go into landfills. The rest get incinerated causing more pollution.

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