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Monday, April 05, 2010

Legislature Proposes 200% Beer Tax Hike in Washington

Democrats in Washington State have an idea for patching the budget hole: a tax on candy, gum, and beer.
The tax on beer would hit the so-called “Joe Six-Pack” consumer, but shelter products from small, in-state breweries that sell a higher-priced brew to a more well-heeled clientele. The beer tax would go up by 50 cents per gallon, up from about 26 cents today, according to the Department of Revenue. UPDATE: On a six-pack basis, the tax goes up from 14.661 cents to 42.786 cents.
Them there sentences is filled with a richness of false assumptions, deceptions, and missing information, so let's start at the top:
  • The writer provides the classic 1988 "boutique beer" framing here, arguing that local breweries are chichi artisans who sell only to the wealthy. This is pure hogwash, though someone needs to do a survey to find out what the real numbers are. Poor people buy expensive beer, full stop.
  • It is pure spin to characterize a wholesaler-assessed excise tax as a cost-per six-pack. The only thing we know about excise taxes is how much they cost breweries--how they'll be reflected in the marketplace is totally unpredictable.
  • Nowhere could I find definitions for "small, in-state" breweries. No doubt there's a definition, but we'll have to wait and see.
Based on my quickie math, the current excise tax on a barrel of beer is about $8. With this tax, it would rise to $23.5o for some breweries. Would small Oregon breweries be subject to it? Would large Washington breweries? We'll have to wait an see.


  1. If the exemption is really only for in-state breweries I'm not sure it would hold up in court. Under Granholm v. Heald state alcohol laws aren't exempt from Commerce Clause jurisprudence, so a tax that explicitly favored in-state breweries over out-of-state competitors would seem open for challenge. Do other states make this distinction?

  2. Perhaps, one day, Americans, regardless of state, are going to awaken that politicians levy taxes to bribe government workers for votes.

    When Washingtonians pay taxes levied specifically on beer, they are paying for overpriced, deadbeat state government workers who have outrageously generous pensions.

    Do want an end to this foolery?

    Vote into office only those candidates who vow to reduce government -- outsider candidates (hint: libertarians).

  3. Jacob, that sounds right. It seems like having state tariffs would really screw up commerce.

    Smack, that's an incoherent comment which I can't endorse. Which state workers don't you support: cops, judges, prison workers, social workers, the workers who build and maintain the roads, or teachers?

    Some taxes are bad because of the ways they're enacted, but I'm a pinko commie and not about to get behind this new fanaticism for small government.

  4. From reading other reports it sounds like the exemption is just for microbrews, with the "in-state" thing mentioned just to clarify that most local breweries wouldn't be affected. But I could be wrong.

  5. ahh, Teabaggers meet Beervana...sweet.

  6. Can we put a Tax on Politicians? Like $0.05, everytime they open their mouth to speak. My beer is Taxed enough!

  7. igger, your comment could have been kept to yourself. Any person that spews the word teabagger is only outing himself as ignorant.

    Smack was a little vague I feel, and didn't explain himself thoroughly enough to really collect any 'endorsements'.

    I for one feel taxing the very engine that drives out states economies is a very backwards thing to do. I also feel the tax revenue is wasted, and there is nothing in place for the many braindead, lazy, and good for nothing government employees. They need standards. Any standards put in place today... none would meet. Don't mistake a Libertarian for an anarchist or 'zero' government teabagging animal. I find that offensive.

    I just find it funny, that many liberal progressive types only slam taxes when it directly affects themselves, work, or passions. Otherwise it's all fair game to tax everyone... especially the rich. Just idiotic.

    I know Jeff, you avoid political posts... but you opened the gate with this one. So my apologies... I made a great effort not to get nasty.

    A limited government can only mean a few things. More money in the free-market.. a boost in the economy. More money in our pockets for tasty craft beer... which will have a lower price... less wasteful spending, and more meaningful and hard working government employees.. which should only make up 10% of the entire countries workforce. (excluding military.) Plus ending pointless wars... isolating ourselves... and being happy free people :)

    Anyway... taxing won't help. They've tried it in Oregon for the schools for years... when I went to school... schools performed well with much less money.... now we just have an expensive system wasting money, and not really caring. Who knows, tomorrow the federal government may buy your favorite brewery...

  8. Love how the teabagger comments get through... but the truth doesn't! Thanks demogod!

    Feel free to screen this one! IP an all..