Showdown Looming for Long Overdue Boost in Oregon Beer Tax

For the first time in 32 years, the Oregon Legislature appears serious about the beer tax.

The Oregon beer tax – less than a penny a glass – is effectively the lowest in the country and hasn’t been raised in more than three decades.

As the current session of the Oregon Legislature winds down, House Bill 2461 would raise the state’s beer excise tax from less than eight-tenths of a penny per glass to fifteen cents per glass.   At this late date, the bill is still alive and may be gaining support from legislators interested in attacking the state’s $4-billion budget deficit.

It is projected the tax increase would raise about $165 million per year. Oregonians currently pay more than $3 billion a year for alcohol-related crime, violence, lost productivity, and health costs.

“Most Oregonians feel it is realistic and efficient to fund prevention and treatment services with revenues from the sale of the product that creates the problem,” says Judy Cushing, President/CEO of Oregon Partnership.

“More than 90 percent of the tax revenues will come from the major out-of-state producers who have been getting what amounts to a free ride for their product sold in Oregon.”

Cushing has also termed “preposterous” the notion that the Oregon craft brew industry will be losing jobs and that beer prices will skyrocket.

Surveys have consistently shown that Oregonians would support a beer tax increase to pay for prevention and recovery programs.

The latest survey conducted this past February by Moore Information, Inc. found that 61 percent of Oregonians favor increasing the beer tax, while 65 percent oppose making significant cuts to substance abuse and treatment programs, even in light of the state’s budget woes.

“Beer’s Fair Share,” a coalition of supporters joining Oregon Partnership, has been educating legislators about the benefits of a beer tax increase.

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