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Beers, Spirits, and Wines Should Not Be Taxed at Different Rates

Rare sighting: A Chicago Walgreen's sells beers, spirits, and wines. Credit:
Rare sighting: A Chicago Walgreen’s sells beers, spirits, and wines. Credit:

Everyone has heard this basic truth many times: the amount of alcohol is the same in a 1.5 ounce shot of liquor, a 4 ounce glass of wine and a 12-ounce bottle of beer. Guzzle six shots in an hour and you’ll be drunk; slurp six glasses of wine or six bottles of beer and you’ll be equally smashed. That is common sense and indisputable math. So why does the government treat spirits, wines and beers differently? Consider the federal tax rates for these three drinks. The Congressional Research Service notes: “When converted to standard drink measures liquor drinks are generally subjected to a federal excise tax of approximately 13 cents per 1.5 ounce shot, wine is taxed at 4 cents per 5 ounce glass, and beer is taxed at 5 cents per 12 ounce can or bottle”…. (Read more at the R Street Institute Blog)