Outrage has greeted a proposal by a group of Oregon lawmakers to hike the state's beer tax a whopping 1,900%, or nearly $50 a barrel. Oregon's brewery guild says that such a tax hike, if enacted, would cripple the state's microbrew industry.
Language accompanying the proposed bill notes that Oregon currently has the next-to-lowest malt beverage tax rate in the country, one that hasn't been raised in more than three decades. With the state facing severe budgetary pressures, the legislature has to look at all options, tax proponents claim, especially since some believe the costs to the public of “substance abuse” dwarf the revenue currently generated by the malt beverage tax.
Tax opponents say the low rate is a key reason why microbrewing has flourished in Oregon. The proposed hike, they say, would cripple a key local industry just at the time it can least afford it, since brewers would either have to absorb all or part of the tax increase or pass it on, depressing demand in a down economy.
The two sides disagree on how much passing on the tax would affect retail prices. Depending on who you ask, it could range from 15 cents to $1.50 a pint.
Whatever it is, the cost of crying in your beer in Oregon may soon be going up…