Increasing taxes on liquor doesn’t harm the liquor producers

Barth: There wasn’t a sin tax I didn’t love

It is just another SIN tax that affects the poor, working poor and lower middle class. Say what you will about taxing alcohol, which is not a bad thing, I just find the argument that we are somehow punishing the liquor companies by increasing this tax to be silly:

Every day, more booze-related (or booze-caused) costs pile up. Who pays for the ambulance, the helicopter, the squad car, the medical care, the funerals? Certainly not the alcohol industry.

So what is Minnehaha county commissioner Barth’s solution? Tax us more to buy it;

An additional 10 percent sales tax on alcohol is not too heavy a burden. An $8 six-pack of beer would be $8.80. I’d still buy it.

I have a better solution. Stiffer penalties to people who sell underage, stiffer penalties to DUI offenders, and actually force people to pay restitution, or work off that restitution in a work release program while living in jail. Taxing RESPONSIBLE drinkers to pay for the crimes of IRRESPONSIBLE drinkers is idiotic. If someone commits a crime while intoxicated, they should pay for the consequences. Not the average Joe who drinks a tomato beer every once in a while.


#1 Ol' Timer on 01.25.11 at 6:49 am

But Mr. Ehrisman, what you are saying would make sense, do you still think that even a small time local politician would use something that makes sense? It is not about making sense, it is about the money. Show me the money.

#2 Pathloss on 01.25.11 at 6:53 am

Sounds like 10 miles east from I-229 along 10th street (Iowa) will not only have a resort casino, major golf course, and events center but a row of liquor stores.
No need to change to the ‘Tequila Party’ on this one. On the other hand, when there’s an ‘Irish Whisky Party’ I’m there.

#3 l3wis on 01.25.11 at 6:53 am

I’m not opposed to SIN taxes, I just get really pissed that Mr. Barth thinks that responsible drinkers should have to pay for idiotic drinkers. Idiotic drinkers should pay their own freaking way. If Jeff wants to make a difference, he needs to lobby the judicial system and crack down on these people, not Joe Bob Grandpa who drinks a tap Bud Light every other week at Applebees.

#4 John on 01.25.11 at 7:31 am

If Barth is so smart why did he sit by and watch as the Sioux Empire Fair was robbed? He was on the Board and didn’t ask any questions.

#5 Costner on 01.25.11 at 7:44 am

Any tax tends to lower consumption of an item, so in some miniscule way Barth is probably right. Sales of alcohol would likely decrease by .0004% which I suppose you could argue harms the liquor companies and distributors.

I can’t agree with the suggestion that this is an unfair tax on the poor however. If poor people are buying alcohol they are keeping themselves poor from their own actions and won’t get much sympathy from me. Liquor is not a necessity and never has been. It is a luxury item and as such they can tax the piss* out of it for all I care.

Have you ever noticed those that can least afford it are the ones who drink the most and smoke the most? Sounds stereotypical, but unfortunately it is a stereotype based in fact.

*The statement “tax the piss out of it” is in no way meant to be a direct attack upon Miller Lite, even though Miller Lite has a lot of properties in common with piss.

#6 John on 01.25.11 at 10:05 am

Costner as usual you are missing the point. Barth chooses to tax a legal product that is diporportionatly used by lower income people. Similar to cigs. In SD we like to tax items that are consumed by lower incomes. Video Lottery also. So I propose to tax golf and Country Club Memberships. Those are not a NEED! Let’s make it a flat tax of $500 per membership and $20 per round of golf. See how that will fly.

#7 scott on 01.25.11 at 11:10 am

john that makes sense!

#8 Costner on 01.25.11 at 12:02 pm

How the hell is alcohol, cigarettes, or video lottery any more of a need than a round of golf?

Not to mention the fact your idea of a tax rate would be about 70% – 80% tax on a round of golf (let’s go ahead and tax alcohol at 80% and see if anyone whines about it). On top of that, you must be a class warfare type of guy who thinks only wealthy people play golf… but that isn’t the case either. I don’t play myself, but I have a lot of friends and family that do and not a one of them is what you might call “wealthy”.

I’m not going to whine about sin taxes on items because those items are “disproportionately used by lower income people”, because the lower income people have 100% choice on whether or not to use them. Last I checked nobody needed alcohol or cigs to survive.

Frankly, maybe with some higher taxes they will realize they can no longer afford them and it will force them to use that money for real necessities. Not to mention help improve the rest of their lives.

I’m all for helping the poor and low income portion of our society, but not when it comes to issues like alcohol and video lottery. If someone is dirt poor and chooses to drink at a bar every night or sit in front of a machine and lose two weeks wages am I supposed to feel guilty about it? I hope not… because I sure as hell don’t. It all comes back to personal responsibility. There have been times I was poor myself, but I never once thought the best use of my limited income was to buy a carton of cigs and a six pack.

#9 Scott on 01.25.11 at 3:15 pm

I hate “NIMBY” taxes! Ugh. Non-smokers love cigarette taxes. Non-drinkers love a booze tax. They all say they’re not going to raise any taxes, so when more revenue is needed they suddenly raise “fees” on items they won’t use. Hey, I hate karaoke with a fervent passion. Let’s create a tax on anybody who sings bad Mariah Carey and Meat Loaf songs.

#10 l3wis on 01.25.11 at 4:05 pm

Costner – You are missing the bigger point. While people who can afford it treat themselves to a nice meal at a nice restaurant often, and go on European vacations, because they can afford it, many times the only form of ‘recreation’ poor people have is a cold one and a cigarette. To each their own. Unfortunately a beer is taxed higher then a European vacation, and that’s not right.

As I said above, fine people for committing a crime, and force them to pay the fine, but don’t tax me more for drinking because some Clem can’t handle his booze.

#11 Costner on 01.25.11 at 7:31 pm

l3wis:many times the only form of ‘recreation’ poor people have is a cold one and a cigarette.

Are you f’ing kidding me? There are 1000 ways to engage in “recreation” that don’t cost a dime so quit trying to go out of your way to justify those who can’t afford it to be out there smoking and drinking.

As far as that European Vacation… have you ever seen the fees and taxes that are tied to overseas travel? (Obviously not) Hell the price and hassle of getting a passport these days would amaze most people, but this continual attempt to turn this into a rich vs poor argument is comical at best.

#12 l3wis on 01.25.11 at 10:28 pm

Blah, Blah, Blah. I just don’t see how increasing taxes on responsible drinkers hurts liquor companies. Alcohol will still be legal at the end of the day, people will still commit alcohol related crimes, and the only thing that will be accomplished is that the government coffers will take in more money. Enough already.

Tax the rich. Tax the f’ing shit out of them.

#13 Ol' Timer on 01.26.11 at 6:44 am

Hard to tax the rich when it is only the rich that are writing the laws. But if we are going to tax, then every tax should be the same percentage. The first thing that needs to be taxed is campaign finance. Over $4.5 million spent on just the House of Rep race in SD this year. I suppose when you do not offer much, it cost a lot of money to get people interested. Tax that at 10%….nice chunk of change.

Booze 10%, cigs 10%, golf 10%, flights 10%, internet sales 10%. Take over total control of video lottery, get rid of the mddle man. State should own the machines and take at least 75% of the profit. Let the casinos and bars have 25%. In my business I would be happy with 25% of every dollar spent.

Grocery store food and clothing are you fing kidding me, quit taxing these items, those are necessities of live. If you do not believe me, look at the first 10 people you see in Walmart and see how many of them you want to see naked.

#14 l3wis on 01.26.11 at 6:47 am

“If you do not believe me, look at the first 10 people you see in Walmart and see how many of them you want to see naked.”

Or hungry for that matter . . .

#15 Costner on 01.26.11 at 7:58 am

Most of the people I’ve seen at Walmart haven’t been hungry their entire lives. That is part of the reason why Walmart has three times as many powered scooters as an equal sized competitor, because the average Walmart patron is a lazy fat-ass.

I’ve seen more morbidly obese people during one trip to Walmart than I have watching an entire season of “The Biggest Loser”.

Yea I said it.

#16 Jeff Barth on 01.27.11 at 11:46 pm

In no way do I want to harm the booze business. I just think that those that use it should pay the costs for it just like people on the road pay gas tax.

As for responsible drinkers… we don’t know, know for a fact, that any responsible drinker might not kill someone tonight.

Perhaps a $500,000 drinking deposit refunable upon your death would work. Believe me folks with 5 DWIs have no money and who wants to pay the cost of locking them all up… until after they kill someone with their 6th DWI.

Drinking kills people and drinkers kill other people

#17 l3wis on 01.28.11 at 10:16 pm

“In no way do I want to harm the booze business”

And you won’t.

“I just think that those that use it should pay the costs for it just like people on the road pay gas tax.”

So what kind of taxes and fees are we charging VL casinos for endangering our neighborhoods with armed robbers, weighing down our financial and court systems? Are there any special taxes or fees for that? Nope, just a measley 50% cut.

“As for responsible drinkers… we don’t know, know for a fact, that any responsible drinker might not kill someone tonight.”

Then that would put them in the ‘irresponsible drinker’ column, wouldn’t it? And what did I say about them? They should pay for the damages they caused.

And why lock up DUI offenders? I agree, we don’t have to do that to save the state money. I have always thought that was stupid. Ankle bracelet them with alcohol detectors and garnish their wages and have stiff penalties.

“Drinking kills people and drinkers kill other people”

So does a lot of things if not done in moderation. I thought you were smarter then that Jeff. Seems my argument stands. Stupid drinkers should pay the piper.