10 reasons why it makes sense to increase the Minnesota alcohol excise tax:
#1: The costs of alcohol use far exceed alcohol tax revenue.
Alcohol use cost Minnesotans $4.5 billion in 2001, according to a 2004 study by the Minnesota Department of Health. That amounts to over $900 for every person in the state. These costs are 17 times higher than the $260 million collected from alcohol sales in 2004. Sample letter to editor
The economic burden of alcohol use in Minnesota includes costs for public safety, medical treatment, law enforcement, fire and emergency response, criminal justice system, chemical dependency treatment, detox facilities, damage to cars and other property, and the social costs resulting from violence and abuse. Most of these costs fall on cities and counties.
#3: As bad as methamphetamine is, alcohol is worse.
A recent report by the Minnesota Supreme Court Chemical Dependency Task Force finds that the magnitude of the problems caused by alcohol-related offenses dwarfs that of all other drugs, including methamphetamine. Sample letter to editor
#4: A modest increase in the alcohol excise tax will generate funds to pay for the costs of alcohol and other drug use.
An increase of a nickel per drink in the state alcohol excise tax will generate an additional $112 million per year to pay for criminal justice, law enforcement, treatment, detox services, and prevention.
#5: The alcohol excise tax was last increased in 1987.
In the past 20 years, revenue from Minnesota’s alcohol excise tax has declined by nearly 40% in real value. The alcohol excise tax currently brings in less than ˝ of 1 percent of all state revenue – less than what is collected through the deed transfer tax or the mortgage registry tax.
#6: An increase in the alcohol tax will reduce teen drinking.
Because teenagers are extremely price-sensitive, even a small increase in the cost of alcohol has an impact on underage alcohol use. One study found that a 10% increase in the price of beer reduces by 15% the number of youth who drink 3-5 beers in a day.
#7: The alcohol excise tax is a true “user fee.”
20% of drinkers consume 85% of all alcoholic beverages. That means that the remaining 80% of drinkers consume on average relatively little alcohol and pay a small amount of alcohol taxes. The state excise tax falls on heavy drinkers who appropriately assume a greater share of the cost of problems caused by drinking.
#8: Other states have recently increased the user fee on alcohol.
Since 2002, ten states have increased their alcohol excise tax.
#9: Three out of four Minnesotans support increasing the alcohol tax.
#10: It is only fair and equitable that the consumers of alcohol help pay for the costs that alcohol brings to all Minnesotans.