Anyone hoping to enjoy a cold drink from their favorite brewery this summer should prepare to spend a little more.
Beginning July 1, a 6 percent tax will be placed on every beer sold at Pennsylvania breweries due to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue’s change in the state sales tax application. Not only will this hurt brewers and their businesses, it hurts the consumers too. As Jeff Bonner, Cave Brewing co-owner and head brewer, explains:
a 6 percent hit is not something that a lot of smaller brewers can absorb … it’s most likely going to get passed on to the consumer.
South County Brewing Company in York County is one of the many breweries affected. Once the tax takes effect, the owner expects to pass on about $25,000 in higher prices to the consumer. Like his customers, brewery patrons across the commonwealth will pay more for their favorite drinks.
But it wouldn’t be a story about Pennsylvania’s sales of beer and alcohol without a healthy dash of hypocrisy. While brewers are sweating the impact of the forthcoming sales tax, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) is giving away tens of thousands of dollars in grants for schools to provide beer-making courses. Shippensburg University received about a $71,000 grant from the PLCB to “prepare workers for the Pennsylvania brewed and malt beverage industry.” This, despite generations of college students having proven that self-financing a beer education is not a problem.
Pennsylvania is, in fact, giving away taxpayer money to encourage people to choose a career in the brewing industry, while also making it more difficult to run a brewery by raising taxes. This contradictory instance is sadly just a small example of the commonwealth’s broken approach to business and the ridiculousness of state government’s involvement in promoting and selling alcohol.
There is a better way to grow the micro-brewing industry. It’s not college beer courses, it’s reduced taxes, a healthy economy, and getting Pennsylvania out of the business of selling booze.