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.