Name a tax that can reduce drunken driving, binge-drinking, alcohol-related sexual violence, alcoholic domestic abuse, public drunkenness, underage drinking, and litter from discarded go-cups. A higher state tax on alcohol in Louisiana could accomplish all that and more.
Compared with its neighbors like Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas, Louisiana has some of lowest taxes on liquor in the region. If the state Legislature and the governor want to raise sin taxes to alleviate Louisiana’s budget shortfall, alcohol should be the vice targeted by state leaders. The other alternatives for sin taxes have been exhausted. When Louisiana increased cigarette taxes by 50 cents in June 2015, it increased taxes on cigarettes by a whopping 138 percent from the prior rate of 36 cents.
Since the state budget has a money problem and needs to raise taxes to pay for critical services, it should spread the tax burden evenly and across the board rather than target one small group. There is no easy fix to Louisiana’s budgetary quagmire by just taxing a shrinking and visible minority of the population like smokers.
It’s time for liquor, beer and wine sellers to pay their fair share of taxes to address Louisiana’s fiscal crisis, and the state could benefit from curtailing some destructive behaviors, too.