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Michigan Lawmaker Proposes 244% Tax Hike on Beer

The craft brewing industry is not pleased

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8 Degrees Plato
Michelle and Chris Gerard
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

Your after hours beer could get a lot more expensive if one Michigan legislator has his way. Michigan Business reports that a new bill proposed by house representative Tom Hooker would increase the state’s tax on beer by 244 percent — from around $6.30 to $21.70 per barrel. The republican rep for Byron Center, who is not a drinker, says the tax would raise funds toward treatments for health issues related to alcohol abuse.

At one time, Grand Rapids was considered the city of churches and now it’s considered Beer City — I’m not sure that’s a positive thing. With that, you have the health issues.

However, Michigan’s robust beer industry and business sectors have condemned the legislation arguing that it would disproportionately impacts craft brewers and could increase the cost of beer for consumers by up to $2 per six pack.

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce was among the bill’s detractors. “In many cases, these so-called sin taxes backfire because people turn to illegal purchasing methods,” says Tricia Kinley, a director of tax and regulatory reform for the MCC. “Coupled with the fact that Michigan has a 10-cent bottle deposit add on, border county beer drinkers will likely just buy beer in Indiana and Ohio, making a bad idea worse.”

While the bill has no state sponsors besides Hooker, it has the support of several organizations including CARE of Southeastern Michigan, Michigan Alcohol Policy Promoting Health and Safety, Michigan Prevention Association, and Mid-Michigan Recovery Services.

According to The Detroit News, the tax would represent the first hike for Michigan’s beer excise tax since 1966 and would increase with inflation. The bill has been referred to the House Regulatory Reform Committee and is unlikely to receive a hearing before the end of the year.

Brewing is big business in Michigan both in terms of drinking and tourism. Last year, the state passed a law approving multi-passenger bike brewery tours otherwise known as pedal pubs.

Rep. Hooker’s Proposed Tax Hike Falls Flat With Craft Brewers [MiBiz]

Michigan Beer Tax Hike Bill Lands With Sobering Thud [Detroit News]

All Beer Here Coverage [ED]

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