Friday, October 9, 2009

Support For the Beer Tax

Equal time and all that.

Looking for something to do on Tuesday morning? Free donuts, coffee, stickers and buttons.

Given that one of the organizations is run by Dane County, another is run by UW Health, and the third is a lobbying organization, I wonder who's footing the bill for said "donuts, coffee, stickers, and buttons." I'd be pretty upset to find out it was me.

---------------START EMAILS-------------------

Date: October 6, 2009 3:27:07 PM CDT
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Subject: CCRA: Beer Tax Hearing Update and "Shattered"!

October 6, 2009

Dear Colleagues,

We are working with the statewide AWARE Coalition to coordinate our efforts in relation to AB 287, the proposal to raise Wisconsin's beer tax and direct the proceeds toward the negative impacts of alcohol abuse. The hearing is next Tuesday, October 13th, at 10:00 a.m. in Room 417 North, Capitol. We have joined with AWARE in developing a pre-hearing event on the morning of the 13th. AWARE has arranged for a mobilizing room at the Inn on the Park from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. that day. The will be coffee, donuts, stickers and buttons so that our support can also be very visual.

We hope you can join us for this early-going send-off.

We also wanted you to know about "Shattered", a video produced by McFarland High School students as a message to their teen counterparts about the issues that young people face in relation to alcohol. Students at the high school have had a private showing of the video. The public showing will be this Thursday, October 8th, at 7:00 p.m. at the McFarland High School auditorium, 5103 Farwell Street, McFarland. (Farwell Street is the left hand turn off Highway 51 - if you are going south toward Stoughton - at the corner with Culver's and Kwik Trip; the High School is on the right hand side after the Hardware store).

Here is a link to a feature story in the Wisconsin State Journal about it:

As you can see, a lot is going on.

These are hopeful times,


Dane County Coalition to Reduce
Alcohol Abuse Co-Facilitators
Room 421, City-County Building
Madison, Wisconsin 53703

Sent: Tuesday, September 22, 2009 3:43 PM
Importance: High


The first public hearing in 30 years on increasing the beer tax has been set for Tuesday, October 13 starting at 10:00 a.m. in the State Capitol. I don’t have a room number yet but will forward when it becomes available.

It is very important that we have a strong showing at the public hearing. If we don’t, I fear our future chances of increasing the beer tax for increased law enforcement, alcohol prevention and treatment will be greatly diminished. I realize not all people are comfortable testifying and that’s fine but we also need people to show up and register in support.

I am hoping we can have individuals testify from law enforcement, prevention and treatment professions and also personal testimonials. We know that the tavern league and others will be there in equally strong force.

Please email or call me and let me know if you are attending and how many people you are able to bring. THANKS.

Please don’t forget the conference call on Friday, October 2 from 12-1. The call in number is 866-228-0372 and the code is 6048817910
UW Health
State Legislative Liaison


  1. If I understand this bill correctly, it taxes production under 300,000 bbls. So it really affects only the small craft brewers in our state. Wow, we should really call this the "small brewers tax". This is a bad deal on all accounts. It must be defeated. I think people of all persuasion need to come together. Liberals, conservatives, libertarians, independants and whoever, we need to stop this. We can get back to lofty discussion over a pint or two later. The time for action is now. The prohibitionist need to stopped.

    Has anybody seen the billboard promoting Prohibition on the beltline heading west off of I 90/39 right before Stoughton? They have a telephone number to call. Just curious.

  2. I think it is time to take a deep breath and actually analyze what effect the tax will have on the beer drinkers of this state. To be clear: I am not a fan of raising the price of beer, but the rhetoric has become pretty overheated of late on the tax issue.

    I watched Carl Nolan repeatedly and emotionally issue a "Call to Action!" at the MHTG meeting last week claiming the tax would "Put us out of business" and it would "Kill the small brewers of Wisconsin".

    It is Carl's job to do that, as the President of the Wisconsin Brewers Guild, but I am not so sure the numbers back him up.

    The proposed tax increase is $9/bbl or (to put it in numbers we all can visualize better) $4.50/keg. Carl's beer retails for roughly $130/keg, so the cost to the consumer (assuming Carl has no intention of swallowing the tax increase) will go up a little under 3.5%.

    Does anyone actually think that he will sell less beer if he prices it 3.5% higher, or it will put him out of business? Capital raised their prices by a lot more than that during the "Hop Crisis" and he still sells a lot of beer. (As an aside: Has any brewer actually lowered the hop adders they put on during the last couple of years now that hop prices have come back to earth?).

    The effect on brewpubs of this proposed tax increase is putting secret smiles on brewpub owners of the state. At least the ones savvy enough to do the math... The tax will add about 3 cents to the cost of a pint of their beer. Now, assuming everyone picks the low-hanging fruit, the cost of a pint of beer at your favorite brewpub will increase to "cover the cost of the tax increase".

    So, if they were honest about it, the cost to the drinker of a pint of their beer would go up from $3.25 to $3.28. Of course, nobody sells beer for a price that is not an even multiple of 25 cents, so the $3.25 pint of beer will now cost you $3.50. The brewpub owner will pocket the additional 22 cents of pure profit per pint and thank Ms. Berceau for the gift. I assume that they will all contribute to her re-election campaign next time around in the hope that she will do it again for them.

    Taking Ms. Berceau at her word that she wants to reduce drunkenness in the state, it is curious that she chose to exempt the big-boys from the tax. From personal observation, I have seen a lot more dangerously drunk people with Miller Lite cans in their hands than pints of Maggie, so she is essentially taxing responsible drinkers to punish the loaders.

    I am not sure I follow her logic, but it does speak to the political clout of the Big-4 in Wisco-World. If she tried to raise the tax on Miller, etc, they would simply flip her off and move to Atlanta.

  3. I don't think this is a "microbrewery-only" tax. The place where "less than 300,000 barrels" is mentioned is unchanged from the current statutes; it simply means that a brewery producing over 300,000 barrels can't claim a 50% tax credit on their first 50,000 barrels. It also says that beer produced for out-of-state sales will be included in the determination of tax credit eligibility. It doesn't say that brewers are going to be taxed for out-of-state sales.

  4. Ugh. Why do they have to do this on a Tuesday at 10am? How about having something later in the evening or on the weekend so that those of us with jobs (and actually paying the taxes in this state) can go?

  5. @anon - keep in mind that the $.023 is going to be taxed at the BREWERY level. Breweries live by their profit margin, as to distributors and retailers. So that $.023 is going to end up going into the brewery's direct costs, which will then get marked up when he sells to the distributor, which will then get marked up when it's sold to the retailer, which will then get marked up when it's sold to you.

    If you actually think the impact is only going to be $.023/12oz bottle, you're either dreaming or being deliberately misleading. The real cost is probably going to be closer to $.50/6-pack. Obviously, if they REALLY wanted to raise money they'd institute the tax at the retailer level. That way they'd still tax it at only $.023/bottle, and it would apply evenly across all beers and beer levels.

    However, since this would hit big-time breweries as well as powerful distributors, it'd never, ever happen. So they're going after the small-time microbrews and only targeting the ones that are brewed here in WI.

  6. More on this:

    The actual bill. The money can be used by local police as long as whatever they spend it on "assist in reducing crimes related to alcohol use".

    So they can use it to hire a new police officer as long as that officer spends a couple hours each month looking for drunk drivers. Awesome, love the way the terminology of "assist" really means the money can be mostly used for whatever municipalities want...

  7. 287 is an injustice. It is the classic case of taxation without representation and the power of lobbing for the major breweries. The craft beer is less than 10% of beer sold in Wisconsin, and even less than that is craft beer made in Wisconsin. Is it just that the craft brewing industry solely carry the cross of alcoholism in Wisconsin?


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