By: Drew Brosseau
Owner of Mayflower Brewing Co.
Massachusetts residents have already shown their sentiments about increasing taxes on alcohol.
In the 2010 state election, the effort to repeal the state’s newly-imposed 6.25 percent sales tax on alcohol was the only ballot measure to prevail, and it was overwhelmingly backed by Massachusetts communities bordering New Hampshire.
As a brewery owner, I pay federal and state tax on the craft beer we produce. Increasing taxes at the state level would cause brewers to raise prices on the consumer, which would ultimately mean less beer bought by patrons, and a resulting loss of business for all those involved in the industry - craft brewers, barley farmers, hop growers, equipment and supply manufacturers, distributors, truck drivers, retailers, restaurants, and pubs.
A higher tax burden would also stifle innovation by brewers and result in fewer products in the marketplace. Today, there are 122 breweries across the Commonwealth that employ nearly 3,000 locals and contribute to travel and tourism to our state. In 2014, according to the Brewers Association, Massachusetts craft beer had a $1.4 billion economic impact with brewers producing about 611,341 barrels. An additional 30 breweries are slated to open later this year, and the Massachusetts Brewers Guild reports that it is constantly fielding calls from towns and cities looking for entrepreneurs and brewers to bring a brewery or brewpub to their neighborhoods.
The craft beer industry is helping to revitalize downtown communities and bring back manufacturing jobs. My company, Mayflower Brewing alone employs more than 25 locals at our brewery in Plymouth.
A higher taxed product will only send craft beer lovers across the borders to neighboring states. The consequence will be more businesses closed, more jobs lost, and less revenue collected in the form of income, sales, use and alcohol excise taxes. It is not effective way to encourage responsible consumption or to support a growing industry in Massachusetts.
Overconsumption of alcohol is a societal problem that has always existed. But tax policy is not the appropriate way to change behavior. Raising taxes will not prevent bad actors from consuming too much. It will only punish responsible drinkers with higher prices.
Drew Brosseau is the owner of Mayflower Brewing Co. in Plymouth, MA and a board member of the Massachusetts Brewers Guild. The Massachusetts Brewers Guild is a nonprofit organization that works to protect and promote the interests of craft brewers across the Commonwealth. For more information, visit MassBrewersGuild.org.