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Louisiana: Alcohol tax increase probable

Louisiana: Alcohol tax increase probable


Source: The Times

By Noah Bryant Ballard

February 15, 2016


For the most part, Louisiana has not raised taxes on alcohol since 1948. That is likely to change as the State Legislature works to address an historic budget crisis.


State Rep. Kenny Cox, D-Natchitoches, has filed legislation to increase excise taxes on alcoholic beverages. In January, Gov. John Bel Edwards called for higher taxes on alcohol as a part of his menu of proposed tax options, and he repeated it in his address before the Legislature at the opening of the special legislative session Sunday.


Cox’s bill, HB 27, aligns Louisiana’s tax rates with other southern states, such as Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas.


In 2014, a study commissioned by the House of Representatives found Louisiana levied much lower taxes on liquor and wine than most states and recommended significant increases to bring it in line with regional and national averages.


Cox’s bill proposes increased taxes on a range of alcoholic beverages. For beer and other “beverages of low alcoholic content,” taxes would increase from $10 per barrel to $13.33 per barrel, or 33 percent. (A barrel of beer equal 31 gallons.)


For liquor, the increase would be from 66 cents per liter to 91 cents. Additionally, taxes for most wines would change from 3 cents per liter to 25 cents per liter, an increase of 833 percent. (A liter is a shade over a quart.)


State Rep. Jim Morris, R-Oil City, vice chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said undecided on whether to support the increases.


“You never want to harm businesses. Whether it’s with so-called ‘sin taxes’ or whatever, but that is going to happen. There’s no doubt about it. If we increase taxes [to mirror regional averages].” He pointed out people from Arkansas and Texas travel to Louisiana to buy less expensive liquor.