Washington – Taxability of Soft Drinks

SALT Report 1874 – The Washington Department of Revenue updated their sales and use tax notice for soft drinks.  The notice states that Washington’s food definitions conform to the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement which provides that food and food ingredients are exempt from retail sales tax unless they fall within the definition of “soft drinks.”

Under the SSUTA, soft drinks are defined as any nonalcoholic beverage, sold in any manner, which contains natural or artificial sweeteners.  However, beverages that contain milk, milk products, or milk substitutes or that contain more than 50% vegetable or fruit juice are not defined as “soft drinks” even if they contain sweeteners.

The following beverages are subject to tax in Washington:

  • Soft drinks (sweetened, 50% or less fruit/vegetable juice, no milk or milk substitutes)
  • Sports drinks
  • Bottled tea/coffee, sweetened, no milk
  • Lemonade
  • Soda pop
  • Tonic water
  • Flavored water with sweeteners
  • Juices with 50% or less fruit juice, and
  • Energy drinks

The notice also reflects that beer and wine are excluded from the definition of “food and food ingredients” and are subject to sales tax.

For Further Information:

Washington Department of Revenue – Special Notice