The Washington Post

Alaska and Alabama are taxing booze hard

When it comes to taxing booze, Alaska and Alabama are national leaders. They are the only states that claim a spot among the top five with the highest excise taxes each for beer, wine and spirits, according to the free market-oriented Tax Foundation.

Such taxes are typically paid up in the chain by retailers and distributors and can come in a variety of forms, such as license fees, a portion of revenues, bottle fees, extra sales taxes, etc. The Tax Foundation collected the rates for each state as of Jan. 1 and created the three maps below. When it comes to beer and wine, at least, the southeast seems to be home to the highest excise taxes.

Kentucky tops the list on taxing wine

In Kentucky, wine taxes are $3.56 a gallon. Alaska’s a full dollar behind at $2.50 per gallon, followed by Florida at $2.25, Iowa at $1.75, and Alabama and New Mexico at $1.70.

Louisiana taxes wine the least at just 11 cents per gallon. California, Texas and Wisconsin all tax wine at a quarter per gallon or less.

Map: Wine Excise Tax Rates by State, 2014. (Tax Foundation)

Tennessee is a leader in beer taxes

Each gallon of beer in Tennessee is taxed at a rate of $1.17. Alaska’s next, followed by Alabama, Georgia and Hawaii, all of which have rates between $0.93 and $1.07.

Over the last year, North Carolina raised its tax by nine cents, while Washington state’s tax dropped by 50 cents. A handful of other states made minor changes.

Wyoming was home to the lowest per-gallon beer tax, at just 2 cents. Missouri, Wisconsin, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Oregon all had taxes of 8 cents or less.

Map: Beer Excise Tax Rates by State, 2014. (Tax Foundation)

Spirit taxes blow wine and beer taxes out of the water

Taxes on spirits span a much broader range. Wyoming and New Hampshrie have no spirits excise taxes, while Washington state taxes them at $35.22 a gallon. In Oregon, the tax is more than a dozen dollars less at $22.73. Virginia is next, followed by Alabama and Alaska. Over the past year, 12 states decreased their taxes, and four increased them.

Map: Spirits Excise Tax Rates by State, 2014. (Tax Foundation)
Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.



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Niraj Chokshi · February 19, 2014

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