This Whole New Beer Tax Thing, Is Gross

Don't tax my keg.
Does a 4x tax make any sense at all?

I imagine that everyone in Washington has heard about the newly proposed beer tax raise. The proposal would rake brewers for 425% increases (up to $20.28 per barrel) in the current tax (from $4.78 per barrel) Wow, Mr. Governor, that much!?

I have often wondered why politicians seek the big score rather than making modest and reasonable increases. If Gov. Jay Inslee thought this was the way to prove that he understood small business – a platform he ran very hard – then yikes. If he was smart, he would have tried something incremental, but this is just nuts. A 425% increase of anything is business-changing, I don’t care what your business, success level, or profit margin.

The State of Washington is facing a big budget crisis and education has been the publicly acknowledged loser. Losing the stranglehold that the state had on liquor has apparently left the state low on short term funds for alcohol education and enforcement. But that is just a single component of the issue, and the Governor has looked to the, finally, growing beverage industry for help.

I have disagreed with the Brewer’s Guild in the past, but not here. This tax increase is a huge burden for brewers to stomach. The Guild has hit the nail on the head, citing that any tax increase needs to be broad-based and not industry-specific. I just hope that the Governor does not propose simply shifting the tax from the producer side (barrel tax) to the consumer side (sales tax on beer).

I am often perplexed why lawmakers see fit to curtail growth in an industry that can be uber-important to the public sentiment, culture and economy of a state. But this tax increase would quadruple what those brewers in Oregon are paying. Brewer flight is not out of the picture.

Read more about the tax increase at the Brewer’s Guild’s website. They have also issued this Letter of Opposition and a form letter for citizens to send to their congress person. Luckily, the Brewers Association has joined the fight.

Let us all hope that reason wins out in the end.

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