An Unfair Burden on Alcohol (2/12/09)
Whenever a higher cigarette tax is proposed to generate more revenue for Kentucky, the knee-jerk response from tobacco defenders is, "Why pick on smokers? Why don't they tax alcohol?"
With all due respect, that's just ill-informed nonsense. Alcohol is already heavily taxed -- and in Kentucky, at a rate 60% above the national average and significantly higher than our neighboring states. That's a far cry from our pitifully puny tobacco tax that ranks among the lowest in the nation.
But because they refuse to raise our tobacco taxes to a reasonable level, our legislators are seriously considering piling on the alcoholic beverage industry yet again by subjecting package liquor to the 6% state sales tax.
This would be counter-productive in the long run, because it wrongly targets one of Kentucky's signature industries.
Our bourbon distillers provide more than 3,200 jobs and pay $60 million in payroll taxes. Bourbon's also critical to state tourism, attracting more than 400,000 visitors each year - something that can't be said about tobacco.
Kentucky does desperately need new revenue. But sticking it to an industry whose customers already pay far more than their share of taxes -- while smokers still get kid glove treatment - isn't the answer.
I'm Bill Lamb, and that's my...Point of View.