As an employer of 100 persons in Washington and 100 persons in Prince George's, Howard, Anne Arundel and Montgomery counties, I ask people to consider these facts. Proposals to increase federal excise tax rates on beer ignore certain facts. Here are a few:
Beer drinkers are already among the most heavily taxed of all consumers. On the average, about 40 cents of the price of a six-pack of beer goes for federal and state excise and sales taxes. America's 80 million beer drinkers already pay their fair share -- and more.
Price increases resulting from higher excise taxes would impose the heaviest burden on lower- and middle-income households, since such families spend a far greater portion of their income on consumer goods than the well-to-do.
Excise taxes are unfair to begin with. Taxes should be spread equitably, not imposed on just a few industries and consumers of selected products. That's discriminatory.
Such taxes are both hidden and inefficient. Since beer excise taxes are imposed at the producer level and added into the cost of the product, most consumers are unaware they are paying for them. What's more, since they are marked up as the product passes through the wholesale and retail distribution systems, consumers must pay more than $2 for every $1 the government gets in revenue from a beer-tax increase.
Raising the federal tax on beer would reduce beer sales in Maryland. That would mean a big drop in the revenues Maryland obtains from its own beer excise tax. History shows that beer sales go down 5 percent for every 10 percent increase in the retail price.
The idea of raising beer taxes to pay for the social costs of alcohol abuse is unrealistic, unwise and unfair. It penalizes the vast majority of responsible drinkers for the abuses of a tiny minority. Why not increase taxes on every other product that can be used irresponsibly? Why endanger an industry that supports hundreds of thousands of Americans and uses billions of dollars worth of American goods and services?
There is no such thing as a tax on beer. The beer excise tax is really a tax on beer consumers. It is they who ultimately pay the bill -- both in the price of the beer they buy and the economic cost of lost jobs, business and productivity.
Federal excise taxes on luxury items like fur coats were repealed more than 20 years ago. Why should Congress continue to target working, low- and middle-income Americans with punitive new tax schemes? MICHAEL O. MINNIG President, Metropolitan Distributing Co. Jessup