Press Release: Marin Institute

Marin Institute

SAN FRANCISCO  Marin Institute, the alcohol industry watchdog, launched its Neglected & Outdated Beer Taxes Map today. This new interactive tool helps those who want to raise beer tax rates to balance state budgets or erase deficits.

"Just point your cursor at a state and you can see the your current beer tax rate, the year of your last tax increase, and the loss of revenue from inflation," said Bruce Lee Livingston, Marin Institute executive director and CEO. "We show the twelve states that have hit the bottom of the barrel in beer tax revenues and are the most overdue for an increase."  

The beer tax map quickly reveals states suffering the most from Big Beer's influence. These are states that have beer taxes stuck at absurdly low rates set as long ago as the 1940s, and even the 1930s. "With almost every state struggling to find new dollars to fund critical programs, policymakers need to stop leaving beer tax revenue on the table," said Sarah Mart, research and policy manager at Marin Institute.

The web site shows the twelve states with the "worst" beer tax rates in the nation, the "bottom of the beer barrel": Georgia,IdahoKentuckyLouisianaMichiganMississippiMissouriNorth DakotaPennsylvaniaWest VirginiaWisconsin, andWyoming. Six states (KentuckyLouisianaMississippiPennsylvaniaWest Virginia, and Wyoming) have not raised their beer tax in 50 years or more.

The worst state is Wyoming, which has the distinction of the lowest tax rate – $0.02 per gallon – set in 1935, during FDR's first term. Factoring for inflation, the value of Wyoming's beer tax has decreased 94%. A simple 5 cents per drink increase in the state's beer tax would yield $7.75 million in new revenue. Considering that Wyoming's annual budget shortfalls are projected to hit $5 million by 2013, a modest beer tax increase would erase all budget shortfalls in the state, reduce drinking, and increase health and safety a little.

The map shows that in 47 states, the decrease in real value of the beer tax due to inflation ranges from 25 percent to more than 75 percent. "This is such a lose-lose scenario for the states," added Mart. "States are losing revenue and cutting essential programs, especially those which mitigate alcohol-related harm, while the beer companies reap higher and higher profits. It's time for states to stop their race to the bottom and raise beer taxes."

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