Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

To give Bucks to the Bucks, they want to tax our beer

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The Cultural Needs task force set up by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) to find a way to build a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks and simultaneously bribe the arts community into supporting it issued a report on their wish list. Over at the MacIver Institute, I commented on one proposal to help fund all of this, a new tax on beer, and some of the other bad tax increase ideas.

To reduce the amount of direct taxation of the residents of the four counties, the task force is considering recommending increasing the tax on the beer we drink. They even helpfully add that the total tax on beer in Cuyahoga County, the Cleveland area, is $10.54 per barrel. The tax on beer in Wisconsin is $2 per barrel.

As Sigmund Snopek proudly sang, “Thank God this isn’t Cleveland.”

Raising the beer tax by $3 per barrel will raise $3.8 million annually. That won’t even cover the amount of money they want to stick in the “discretionary” fund to get the WOW counties to go along with contributing to building the new arena.

Worse, a beer tax is a very regressive tax. According to a study by The Beer Institute, “households earning less than $50,000 per year pay half of all beer taxes.”

They add, “Beer taxes are actually 6.5 times higher as a percent of income for lower-income households (those earning less than $20,000 per year) compared to higher-income households (earning $70,000+ per year).”

Given the inadequacy and regressive nature of the beer tax increase, perhaps the task force should leave that suggestion alone so we can wash down some of the other tax increase suggestions.

One thing I know for sure, protests of the tax will not involve dumping beer into the harbor.

This weekend I’m sure I’ll get a chance to do more research on the topic.
miller time

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