Birmingham News quotes Scott Drenkard on beer excise taxes

March 10, 2012

Alabama beer tax is second highest in US

Saturday, March 10, 2012

By Martin Swant

Many beer fans may not realize it, but Alabama's taxes on beer are higher than every state but one, according to an analysis by the Tax Foundation.

According to a map created by the Washington, D.C.-based organization, Alabama's beer excise tax of $1.05 per gallon is only 2 cents behind Alaska's, which is the nation's highest levy on beer. Georgia's beer tax of $1.01 per gallon has the third place spot.

The majority of states have beer taxes that are below 45 cents per gallon, according to the Tax Foundation's map, which is based on data from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States as of Sept. 1, 2011.

The state with the lowest beer excise tax -- a levy paid on certain goods purchased -- is Wyoming, with a rate of 2 cents.

Scott Drenkard, an economist with The Tax Foundation, said one issue states should be concerned with is whether their beer drinkers are hopping across state lines to buy cheaper brew. For example, if someone buys beer in Tennessee they pay just 14 cents per gallon. If lots of people are doing that, Alabama could be losing out on tax revenue, he said.

"There is little evidence to show that increased taxation on beer is going to lead to less of an inebriated state," Drenkard said. "In general, you maybe actually see the opposite, as consumers could switch to hard liquor."

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