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Monday, August 31, 2009

BOHICA: higher booze taxes in Illinois, North Carolina tomorrow

After booze tax increases in New York and Massachusetts, now it's time for moderate-drinking residents of Illinois and North Carolina to celebrate being taxed more than their fellow citizens just because they like having a cocktail before dinner or a beer with the game. Taxes go up tomorrow in both states. I can only assume that New Dry organizations in the states and in the national hives (Marin, PIRE, yeah, I'm talking about you) are dancing with glee as short-sighted state governments pile on the pain by raising taxes during a recession.

I mean...a lot of these states have balanced-budget amendments. But it appears that to almost every legislator and governor, those requirements mean nothing about keeping spending in check; no, they're about a need to raise taxes. Sin taxes. Regressive taxes. I know the cries: "It's only a nickel!" (It never is: either it's a producer tax that ripples and expands, or it's a direct tax that's more by the time it gets to someone drinking good stuff) "Drinking is a luxury!" (So's candy, but there's no special tax on that. (Actually, there is: Illinois taxed that, too; see comments, below) Okay, pets are a luxury, and there's no tax on them!) "Drinking costs billions!" (Really? Check your figures. The whole booze biz also puts billions back into the economy.) "Drinking is a sin!" (Who let him in? I thought we got rid of you back in 1933. Anyway, your mom's a sin, but we don't tax her.)

Here's a cry for you: booze taxes unfairly tax lower-income citizens. Is that the kind of thing you want to do during the worst recession in decades? Way to go, Mr. Progressive.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania has apparently dodged the bullet again, if Governor Rendell's latest lame joke is any indicator.
"The media's low-paid and high consumers." - Gov. Rendell, joking in a Harrisburg news conference this week about the state budget and the politics that determined that an increase in beer taxes would not find support.


Steven said...

The good side of the Illinois tax (to look on the bright side), beer will hardly see a bump. Yay!

Lew Bryson said...

Didn't I hear you saying you liked that liquor I sent you? Man don't live by beer alone, Steven. Solidarity, my friend!

Rob K said...

You could almost subtitle this "Illinois and North Carolina further subsidize neighboring states budgets". More Illinoisans will be crossing into Indiana for certain. They'd probably generate more revenue by lowering excise taxes.

Lew Bryson said...

True enough, Rob: people in Mass were calling the increase there the "New Hampshire Stimulus Package." Booze tax increases do NOT have a good record as revenue gainers.

Glenn said...

*&%*&$ I forgot this kicked in so soon. I'll do my best to remember these bozos come election time (yes I made my feelings known to ALL of my politicians!). But thank goodness they haven't figured out how to tax homebrewing supplies that badly yet :-)

GenX at 40 said...

I did notice how cheap beer was in Indiana when I was there so I won't quibble but to say that this is a regressive tax, not progressive.


sam k said...

Yeah, I'll never forgive Bush the Elder for making "liberal" a dirty word (referred to at the time as "the 'L' word" you may recall).

Steven said...

"Didn't I hear you saying you liked that liquor I sent you?"

Oh, I hear you loud and clear Mr. Wawensa, but I honestly don't indulge in the hard stuff that much any more. "That liquor" is bound to last a long time.

Now, if we start talking the bump in wine tax, I'm on the grumbling line -- which is why I stocked up on the Wife's fave yesterday.

But I was really just looking for a bright spot in all the gloom.

Lew Bryson said...

I partake in all three (cider, too), and write about two of them, and it pains me to see the three industries' schadenfreude when one of the others gets hit. Taxing any booze is just another step towards taxing your booze. I don't like any of it.

Steven said...

"You could almost subtitle this 'Illinois and North Carolina further subsidize neighboring states budgets'."

That's for sure, except my straight line leads right to Wisconsin -- where their cigarette tax just jumped a whopper too.

Maybe I can work some trades, just like the Berlin Black Market after the war! ;) said...


in your post you wrote so is candy and no one wants tot ax that

here is a link to an article where lawmakers want to do just that


Lew Bryson said...

Actually... Illinois also enacted a tax on candy yesterday. Holy crud. IS NOTHING SACRED?