The Amarillo Globe-News recently published a story suggesting that lawmakers might contemplate raising the tax on draft beer. The tax was the suggestion of Dick Lavine, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities. The beer tax hasn’t been touched for some thirty years–and it probably won’t be touched for the next thirty.
The problem with taxing beer is … beer drinkers. They are the sort of folks who get their dander up when somebody starts talking about raising taxes. Bartenders are another problem. They talk to everybody. Politicians don’t want to get them riled up either. There is a reason the beer tax hasn’t been raised and won’t be raised. It goes back to a saying attributed to one Jean Baptiste Colbert, finance minister to the French king Louis XIV: “The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to get the most feathers with the least hissing.” Raising taxes on beer is going to result in a lot of hissing and not very many feathers.