Don’t tax beer in Wisconsin

An increased beer tax in the state will negatively affect breweries, bars and consumers.

Unfortunately, it seems like politicians in Madison are once again pushing for an increase in the stateâÄôs beer tax. Gov. Jim Doyle is, thus far, against any such measure, though Rep. Terese Berceau, D-Madison, the driving force behind the bill, has been slowly mustering forces backing the beer tax hike. Although the increase would be very slight -âÄî it would actually amount to little more than an additional 2.5 cents for a 12 oz. bottle âÄî it could actually be quite detrimental to WisconsinâÄôs economy. While it does not seem like a big deal, a low beer tax actually helps WisconsinâÄôs economy. Currently, Wisconsin has one of the lowest beer taxes in the nation at six cents per gallon âÄî or $2 per barrel of beer. Now, how does this help Wisconsin? Breweries âÄî which have to pay taxes in not only the state where they brew the beer, but also the state where they sell the beer âÄîbenefit much more if they brew their beer in states with low beer taxes. Thus, they are able to pass along the savings to consumers and price their beverages more competitively. An increase in the beer tax will in turn negatively impact bars and taverns, which must in turn increase their prices. Berceau has also been sending mixed signals when it comes to the tax. On one hand she says that the increase is so slight that âÄúif you drink a six pack a day, at the end of the week, you will have paid an additional dollar in taxes.âÄù Fair enough, but then she goes on saying that with the higher cost of beer, hopefully teenagers will have a harder time purchasing alcohol. Really? A two and a half cent increase per bottle of beer will give teens a harder time purchasing it? Berceau is simply trying to appeal to whomever she can to push this poor idea through. Although the tax may help to fund programs to reduce alcoholism and drunk driving, stricter laws can do the same without hefty price tags. An increased beer tax can do little but further injure an already crippled Wisconsin economy. This column, accessed via UWire, was originally published in The Daily Cardinal at the University of Wisconsin. Please send comments to [email protected]