By RODNEY D. BOAM
With every New Years’ toast or hoist of beer in celebration of 2014, the state coffers hear a “ka-ching, ka-ching.” In Idaho, beer is taxed at 15¢ on every gallon, while wine and liquor are both taxed on $11.28 per gallon.
The wine and liquor tax is the 10th highest in the nation. Beer is taxed lower than 72 percent of other states and ranks 36 among the 50 states.
Alcohol sales in Idaho are expected to generate $165 million in 2013. In 2012 Idaho received about $153 million in revenue, with 41 percent going to the state’s general fund and 26.8 percent going to cities and 18 percent to counties. Court services received almost six percent and substance abuse treatment got just over three percent.
Washington state scores number one in tax on spirits with $26.70 per gallon going to state coffers, according to the Tax Foundation in its 2012 report. Coming in second was Oregon, where the tax rate on liquor is $23.03.
The excitement and justification for drinking must be overwhelming to some state officials. After all, how can all that money be bad for Idaho.
The Pacific Institute for Research did a study funded by Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention on the costs of underage drinking. The evaluation paints a different picture of alcohol consumption in Idaho. The institute’s 2010 data showed under-age drinking alone cost the state an estimated $300 million in problems.
The largest problem associated with under-age consumption of alcohol includes violence (homicide, suicide and aggravated assault) and traffic accidents. The Institute said it cost the state an estimated $220 million in 2010 dollars for alcohol problems related to violence and accidents for students in grades 9-12.
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