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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.

For all press inquiries, please contact:

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


Why is I-1634 necessary?
Grocery taxes hit working families the hardest, and cost the state jobs in a vital part of our economy. While the Washington state government doesn’t currently collect taxes on food and beverages, there is a loophole in the law that lets local governments impose taxes on groceries. The Seattle City Council exploited this loophole in 2017 to pass a tax on beverages. The tax raised beverage prices astronomically, but prices on other products also went up (including juice drinks, teas, coffees, kombucha and almond milk) as business owners worked to implement the complicated policy. There’s nothing to stop other cities and towns from doing the same thing with any grocery items.

I-1634 takes a proactive step to close this loophole and prevent any new taxes on food, beverages and their ingredients in Washington. Having a measure in place to prevent these types of sweeping taxes is important to Washington’s small businesses, restaurants, grocers and working families.
Who supports I-1634?
The initiative is supported by the Joint Council of Teamsters No. 28, Washington Farm Bureau, Washington Food Industry Association, and Korean-American Grocers Association of Washington, and sponsored by the American Beverage Association, whose member companies support thousands of people who live and work in Washington.

A broad and diverse coalition of partners are backing this initiative because they are committed to efforts to prevent these types of sweeping taxes that will adversely impact Washington’s small businesses, restaurants, grocers, and working families. And our coalition is growing. Check out the more than 1,000 partners including small businesses, industry associations, farm bureaus, local Teamsters chapters, Chambers of Commerce and individuals who are drawing the line at attempts to tax food and beverages that make groceries unaffordable.
What do we know about the potential impact grocery taxes can have on businesses and the economy?
A recent Oxford Economic Study found that in Philadelphia, after implementation of their controversial beverage tax, nearly 1,200 were affected, GDP fell by $80 million, and labor income dropped by $54 million. The job losses impacted the retail, manufacturing and transportation sectors. The measure resulted in people shopping outside the city to avoid the beverage tax. And it wasn’t just confined to beverages as overall grocery sales dropped in Philadelphia and rose in the suburbs – why would shoppers leave the city just to purchase tax-free beverages? They don’t, they take the entire grocery cart with them. 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 shopped.

Seattle is another example of the unintended consequences of this tax. The city’s tax turned out to be far more complicated and harmful 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.
How does a local tax on foods or beverages affect working families?
Taxes on groceries hurt working families the most. Washington State already has a regressive tax structure that places a greater burden on lower- and middle-income families than any other in the country. Any additional taxes on essentials like food and beverages would only make matters worse.

We need to draw a line at attempts to tax food and beverages that make the most important items in our grocery carts less affordable, especially for those living paycheck to paycheck.
Does I-1634 impact Seattle’s new beverage tax?
No, nothing in this initiative would terminate or reverse revenue streams that have already been passed by local governments. But we have already seen the impact that this tax has had in Seattle: the tax is applied to and drives up prices on a variety of everyday items including juice drinks, teas, coffees, even kombucha and almond milk. Our coalition includes Seattle businesses who had to raise prices on a number of items to shoulder the new tax.

This initiative is about protecting people from a barrage of taxes like Seattle’s from being repeated throughout the state that not only impact working peoples’ pocketbooks, but also threaten local businesses and their jobs.