In this new year, beer brewers are enjoying a temporary excise tax break that was signed into federal law as 2017 was winding down.
But now public health experts are saying the temporary cut could come with a big cost over the next two years. That's because the 2018-19 tax reduction will decrease government revenue by $4.2 billion, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation — slicing into funds available to offset the public costs of excessive alcohol consumption. Those costs involve everything from traffic accidents and emergency room trips to poorer health among Medicaid recipients.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the cost of excessive alcohol use is $2.05 per drink — costs that create financial burdens for federal, state and local governments.
"Currently, federal and state taxes do not even come close to covering those costs," said Dr. Timothy Naimi, author of a recent article study on state alcohol excise taxes."Public health is a strong rationale for alcohol taxation. ... If we don't recover the costs related to alcohol sales, then it amounts to a subsidy for people who drink, and who drink excessively."