SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon breweries and wineries could potentially be mounted with a significant tax increase if a proposed bill in the Oregon Legislature moves forward.
Right now, Oregon has one of the lowest tax rates beer and wine. House Bill 3296, The Addiction Crisis Recovery Act, would change that. Under the proposed bill, the beer tax would go up nearly 2,700%. The tax on wine would go up nearly 1,600%.
The revenue from these tax hikes would go toward a fund dedicated to addiction services.
“Alcohol is causing a huge amount of harm to our economy and to our families and the goal with Addiction Crisis Recovery Act is to address the fact that we have the third-highest addiction rate, we rank last in access to treatment,” said Mike Marshall, executive director of Oregon Recovers, the organization that helped draft the bill.
Marshall said businesses could pass the increase in cost to consumers, arguing that the tax hike is the only way to curb harmful consumption and binge drinking.
But some business owners said they believe the tax would cripple the industry.
“Oregon certainly does have an addiction crisis and it does have some severe socio-economic issues with the homeless and the way to fix that is not to destroy the craft beer and wine industry,” said Tomas Sluiter, CEO of Culmination Brewing.
He added that the bill would mean his business would pay more in taxes than what it makes in net profits, pushing it to shutdown altogether.
Alex Sokol Blosser, co-president of Sokol Blosser Winery said the increase would only make it cheaper for someone to buy his wine in another state.
“This tax increase is so large, it basically says to us in the wine industry, we hope that you make wine in Oregon, we hope that you employ, a lot of people, and we hope that you pay taxes, but please do not sell your product in the state,” he said.
Oregon Craft Beer launched an online petition last month to protest the bill. The website asserts that “Beer, wine, cider and spirits are an essential part of Oregon’s economy and identity.”