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Keep groceries affordable
for Washington families.

Join Yes! To Affordable Groceries to protect hard-working families and neighborhood businesses from grocery taxes.

Local governments across Washington are looking to raise revenues and one idea they’re looking at is new taxes on foods and beverages. People feel taxed enough and can’t afford new taxes on what they eat and drink. Washington’s tax structure already places a greater burden on working families than any other state in the country. Heaping taxes on everyday grocery items will raise our cost of living and make it even harder for working families, small businesses and their workers to get by. That’s why Yes! To Affordable Groceries is exploring ways to prevent new burdensome grocery taxes from advancing in local communities across Washington.

We are not looking to reverse any existing revenue streams for cities and towns. But we need to draw a line against governments that want to raise revenue by raising grocery prices. The people of Seattle and their local businesses are struggling with the beverage tax imposed on them in January. That tax turned out to be far more excessive than the city council that passed it let on. Prices have skyrocketed and families who live paycheck-to-paycheck are being hit hardest. Local restaurants, corner stores and groceries have seen sales drop significantly. Jobs of workers are now at risk.

We appreciate the budget issues that communities face. But there is a better way to handle the challenge than targeting grocery carts for more taxes that will only hurt working-class families, small businesses and their employees the most.

Who We Are

Yes! To Affordable Groceries is a group of citizens, businesses and community organizations actively opposing new taxes on everyday grocery items, such as meats, dairy and beverages. We’re taking a stand to bring fairness to our tax structure, to protect jobs and neighborhood businesses and to prevent excessive taxation on what we eat and drink. Join us to say YES to keeping groceries affordable.

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For a full list of our coalition partners, please visit our Partners page.


What are the unintended consequences of enacting a tax on groceries?

A recent Oxford Economic Study found that in Philadelphia, after implementation of their extreme beverage tax, nearly 1,200 jobs were lost, a decrease in the GDP by $80 million, and there was $54 million less in labor income. The job losses impact retail, manufacturing and transportation jobs. People shopped outside the city to avoid the beverage tax and many wound up doing much of their grocery shopping there as well. Grocery sales dropped in Philadelphia and rose in the suburbs. This hurt small businesses in Philadelphia and their workers, who saw layoffs and trimming of hours. People did not change their eating or drinking habits, they just changed where they shop.

Seattle is another example of the unintended consequences of this tax. The city’s tax turned out to be far more complicated, harmful and burdensome than politicians originally let on. Since the tax took effect, people are taking their business outside the city to save money. Owners of neighborhood grocers, markets, food trucks, take-out spots and restaurants are experiencing a significant drop in sales due to the beverage tax. For businesses that live off small margins, this impact is devastating.

When a city enacts a local tax on foods or beverages, who really pays for it?

Taxes on groceries will hurt working families the most. Washington State already has a tax structure that places a greater burden on lower- and middle-income families than any other in the country. We need to protect ourselves from taxes on what we eat and drink that will only make things worse.

Why should Washington prohibit local taxes on groceries?

Pro-tax advocacy groups are looking to tax everyday foods and beverages in cities and towns. This happened in Seattle, and consumers and small businesses are being harmed by huge increases in prices. People are concerned that these taxes will spread across the state. There are better ways to address budget challenges than raising prices on our grocery list. Seattle imposed a tax on hundreds of every day beverages and this may be only the beginning of more attempts to raise taxes on meat, produce, dairy, and many essential foods.

Has any state or community in the United States rejected a local food or beverage tax?

Yes. Since 2008, voters and/or legislatures in different state and local governments have rejected beverage taxes 50 times. In November 2017, Michigan banned local taxes on foods and beverages. Prohibiting a new tax on groceries in Washington will be following the lead of other states and localities that have taken a stand to keep our groceries affordable.

Do local food or beverage taxes improve health or reduce obesity?

Taxes on grocery items have never been shown to improve public health. A study on the Berkeley beverage tax by tax proponents found that the tax resulted in an average reduction of taxed beverage consumption of 6 calories per person per day, but an increase five times larger in calories from untaxed beverages.