Representative Kaniela Ing plans to introduce a bill during the next legislative session that would cut taxes Hawai`i residents pay for beer by more than half, from 93 cents a gallon to 42 cents a gallon.
“While it may appear that beer is taxed at a lower rate per gallon when compared to wine or spirits, if you break down the amount of alcohol per average gallon of beer versus wine or spirits, beer drinkers are taxed at a much higher rate,” said Rep. Ing. “The goal here is to level out the taxes so that each type of alcoholic beverage is taxed equitably.”
Ing says that his proposed tax cut is not to encourage drinking, as he rarely drinks alcohol himself. Rather, Ing says, his proposal is a matter of class fairness.
“Working people tend to drink beer more often than other types of alcoholic beverages. But today they are taxed more per ounce of alcohol than someone drinking wine. When you look at it that way, the current system is incredibly unjust.”
Compared to other states, Hawai`i’s alcohol taxes rank second for beer, 11th for wine, and 23rd for spirits.
Ing believes this proposal makes sense from an economic and business standpoint as well.
“Hawai`i’s beer industry is growing and has resulted in hundreds of new jobs, diversified tourism, and a stronger economy,” Ing said. “If you look at other states, this local industry has a lot of room to grow. We should encourage the growth of local business to allow them to compete in the national marketplace.”