Today is not a good day to be an Oregon brewer, because today Oregon brewers are asking themselves how they are going to remain competitive with their elected officials looking to raise the excise tax on the state’s brewers by nearly 2,000%.
Apparently the tax hike is so epic that the technology available to modern journalists can’t compute just how massive it is. The Portland Business Journal has the increase at 1,800%, while CNN’s mathematicians were a bit more ambitious at 1,900%. I sent all of the raw data to Mutineer Scientist Jeff Dorenbush, who failed to reply with an answer because he instead made a cannonball run to the store to stock up on Rogue, Deschutes, Full Sail, Widmer and his other favorite Oregon craft brews.
How will this tax hike affect you? “We could see a two to four dollars per six-pack increase, and I can tell you I get phone calls from people that are irate that our beer is already at $7.99 and $8.99.”, says Kurt Widmer of Oregon’s Widmer Bros. Brewing. Really? $12.99 for a six-pack of Widmer? How is that American? HOW!?
“Oregon’s beer excise tax is one of the lowest in the country, [and] hasn’t been raised since the 70s. The increase would help fund drug and alcohol treatment according to the bill sponsors…” reports Scott Burton of Portland’s KGW. The Oregonian reports, “Gov. Ted Kulongoski is pushing higher cigarette taxes for health care this session. And a handful of Democrats would like to fill a hole in the drug and alcohol addiction services with a beer tax increase.” Is it just me, or is implementing a beer tax to help pay for drug treatment kind of, well, insane? I mean, why stop there? Let’s tax alcohol to pay for cigarette problems, road improvements, and scholarship funds. Let’s drop income taxes altogether and convert it all to a beer tax. Didn’t you hear? Beer is recession proof! If people will pay $5 for a beer in a restaurant, then they must be willing to pay $30 for a six-pack, right? WRONG!!!
I see the point to raise the taxes on brewers a little. Business is good, and they should pay their way, but according to the Portland Business Journal, Washington brewers pay $8.08 per barrel, California pays $6.20, Nevada $4.96 and Idaho $4.65, so raising the tax from $2.60, what Oregon currently pays, to $49.61 is almost criminal. If passed, I hope the breweries explore moving to a state that will appreciate their economic and cultural contributions, or at least threaten to do this for the sake of stirring the pot.
To further add to this insanity, the Portland Business Journal is reporting that tax hike, “could cost the state’s $2.25 billion brewing industry some 3,000 jobs.”
I think I see where they are going with this. Oregon jacks up the tax rate, rakes in an extra $160 million a year, and can then use this money to pay for the unemployment benefits for all of the disillusioned and embittered Oregonians without a job. I wouldn’t be surprised if these newly disillusioned and embittered (and unemployed) Oregonians turn to hard drugs and low shelf tequila to find meaning in this new world in which their political representatives have turned on them like a rabid dog with a thirst for blood.
Good luck and Godspeed fine brewers of Oregon, and don’t let the bastards get you down.