A Taxing Proposal in Maryland

Got word from Volker Stewart at the Brewer’s Art in Baltimore about Senate Bill 232 in the state of Maryland. A synopsis of the Bill provided here says:

Increasing the State tax rates for alcoholic beverages in Maryland from $1.50 to $4.50 per gallon for distilled spirits, from 40 cents to $1.20 per gallon for wine, and from 9 cents to 54 cents per gallon for beer; expressing the State tax rates for alcoholic beverages alternatively as 89.1843 cents for each 0.75-liter container of distilled spirits, 23.7825 cents for each 0.75-liter container of wine, and 5.0625 cents for each 12-ounce container of beer; etc.

In short, the bill would triple taxes on spirits and liquor while increasing beer taxes sixfold! I’m not sure how this compares to other states, but I do know that alcohol is in general one of the most taxed commodities in the country. I’m not opposed to taxes – hey, I’m a liberal – but geezus, this seems like overkill.

According to a national study conducted by Standard and Poor for the Beer Institute, taxes represent 44% of the retail price of beer. This compares to 33% for bread and 36% for boats. That’s right boats, a luxury item for most people, are less taxed than beer, which is consumed by about 50% of Americans and delivers lots of known health and nutrition benefits (read my book for more on beer and health).

Click here to find your Maryland delegates and let them know what you think about this proposed tax.

8 Responses to A Taxing Proposal in Maryland

  1. […] Chris O’Brien over at the Beer Activist gave us all a heads up that Maryland State Senator Jennie Forehand has sponsored a bill to increase […]

  2. Jim says:

    So wait, I don’t get what’s so bad about a five cent tax increase for a bottle of beer. I read there hasn’t been an increase of this amount in something like 30 years, so it doesn’t seem so bad to me.

  3. beeractivist says:

    Jim – Are you saying you think half the price of beer should be taxes? It’s already 44 percent of the price and this increase in MD would make it almost 50 percent.

    According to a press release from Clipper City Brewing this increase would mean Maryland’s tax on beer is twice that of our neighboring states. As I said in the post, I’m not opposed to taxes. But beer is already on of the most taxed consumer items. Should it be? I don’t think so. I think highly polluting industries should be taxed more. The beer industry in general, small and big brewers alike, have done a good job of addressing environmental impacts. Plus, small brewers have done a tremendous service in relocalizing business, which is an important way of stimulating local economies and keeping dollars in communities. I think that’s a better way to strengthen Maryand’s economy than charging consumers even more taxes on beer.


  4. JEB says:

    Hmmm…. I guess I’m torn here. Beer/sprits are not necessary for daily well being. I whole heartedly support high taxes on cigarettes. .05 increase for a bottle of beer will not break the bank. I live close enough to WV that I can still go there.

    I do however, feel that maybe they should consider allowing grocery stores to sell beer and wine. Its annoying having to go to a liquor store which almost always seems to be in a shady part of town and not someplace I trust parking in front of.

  5. beeractivist says:


    Thanks for commenting. A few responses to your points:

    The longest chapter in my book Fermenting Revolution is about drinking and health. The facts disagree with your first statement about well being. Daily beer drinking absolutely contributes to improved health. The medical research is very clear that moderate and consistent (it must be both moderate and consistent) intake of alcohol (it can be any alcohol) has a long list of health benefits. The number one benefit is dramatic improvements in heart health – and since heart disease is the number one cause of death in America, that is a very relevant health benefit. Perhaps even more compelling though is that moderate, consistent alcohol consumption results in measurably longer life spans. The studies on this are numerous and well established. See the bibliography in my book for references.

    Some grocery stores in Maryland do sell beer and wine. The regulations are different all over the state. Within my county, Montgomery, the regulations even affect different grocery stores differently – some are allowed to sell beer and some aren’t. The regulations make for a very inconsistent consumer experience. I’d be all for letting anyone sell beer.


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