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  • Boulder Revised Code
  • Finance Contacts
  • Budget Division
  • Purchasing Division
  • Tax and Licensing Division

Sugar Sweetened Beverage Tax for Retailers


Am I A Retailer?

If you sell sweetened beverages to customers at the retail level, then you’re a retailer. Businesses may include but are not limited to the following:

  • Corner Stores/Delis
  • Grocery Stores
  • Restaurants
  • Schools
  • Food Trucks
  • Vending Machine Operators

The topics below will help you get started on learning about this tax and your role as a retailer. Please refer to the complete list of Frequently Asked Questions for more detailed information.  

Please keep checking this webpage for updates, additional content, meeting and conference call notices, and for registration and compliance information.

What Retailers Need to Know and Do

Understand which beverages you sell that are subject to the tax

Below is a suggested 2-step method for determining whether the tax applies to the distribution of a Sugar-Sweetened Beverage. It does not constitute legal advice and so legal counsel should be consulted on the applicability of the tax to the distribution of a particular beverage.

Step 1: Does the non-alcoholic beverage have at least 5 grams of caloric sweetener per 12 fluid ounces?

  • If no, then the tax does not apply. (Example: This includes most diet drinks that don’t have calories.)
  • If yes, proceed to Step 2.

Step 2: Sugar-Sweetened Beverage does NOT include any of the following;

  • Any beverage in which milk is the primary ingredient, i.e. the ingredient constituting a greater volume of the product than any other;
  • Any beverage for medical use;
  • Any liquid sold for use for weight reduction as a meal replacement;
  • Any product commonly referred to as “infant formula” or “baby formula;”
  • Any alcoholic beverage;
  • Any beverage consisting of one hundred (100) percent natural fruit or vegetable juice;
  • Sweetened medication such as cough syrup, liquid pain relievers, fever reducers, and similar products.
  • Any beverage that is distributed for use at the University of Colorado for consumption as part of a meal plan that includes both food and drinks from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018;
  • Any product commonly used exclusively to mix with alcohol that may exceed 5 grams or more per serving of caloric sweetener per 12 ounces of fluid that is not a sugar sweetened beverage, including without limitation margarita mix, bloody mary mix, daiquiri mix or similar products. If no, then the tax does not apply. (Example: 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice that, by definition, don’t have added sugar because it is 100 percent fruit or vegetable.) If yes, then the tax is likely to apply.

Purchase from a registered distributor

Starting July 1, 2017, retailers are encouraged to purchase sugar-sweetened beverages from a registered distributor. 

See the complete list of Registered Distributor List pdf.

Notify your distributor that you are located in Boulder

Make sure your distributor knows you are located in the City of Boulder and that they will need to pay the Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax on products they supply to you.

Keep track of your invoices

Once a registered distributor is notified that you are located in the City of Boulder, your invoice should identify that your distributor has paid the excise tax. You may be asked to provide these invoices to the city's Tax and Licensing Division in the future to prove you purchased from a registered distributor.

The City’s interpretation of the definition of “distribution" includes retailers obtaining and bringing the beverages into the City themselves (“self-distributors”). If you operate a business that is a "self-distributor", you are obligated to file and pay the excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverage products; please use the Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Distribution Excise Tax Return Form pdf to comply.

Distributors are free to pass the added cost of the SSB Tax on to retailers. Likewise, retailers may or may not pass the cost along to their consumers. 

Let your customers know about the new excise tax

The City of Boulder has developed several tools you can download to share information with your customers about the Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Product Distribution Tax. These point-of-sale (POS) handouts and posters are available for you to download and use within your business to explain the tax and where revenue will go. 

Point-of-Sale Handouts: