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Vermont Liquor Handouts Hurt Taxpayers and the Local Beer Economy


Even as most other states rejected its lobbying efforts, the liquor industry recently received a massive handout that’s likely to hurt Vermont taxpayers, while boosting profits for a few big, out-of-state liquor companies.

New legislation significantly reduces the tax rate on canned cocktails and directs more money into the coffers of out-of-state liquor companies. It also allows Vermont’s private beverage retailers to start selling liquor-based drinks for the first time — edging out the state’s beer products that have long supported local communities and businesses.

Vermonters have always recognized beer – not liquor – to be king in the state. Today more than 60 independent brewers produce some of the country’s most beloved craft beers. Vermont’s beer industry has been supporting the local economy for generations. Big liquor companies cannot make the same claim.

More than two years of pandemic lockdowns hit the Green Mountain State’s breweries hard. Many were forced to close their doors permanently, while the “luckier” brewers had to accept significantly lower taproom sales. A long recovery process still confronts these valued local businesses.

As we wrote in our letter to the editor in Seven Days Vermont, carveouts for the out-of-state liquor industry not only interfere with the recovery of Vermont’s beer industry, but they also hurt local distributors, manufacturers and farmers that rely on the success of local beer sales.

And let’s not forget about Vermont’s consumers. As we wrote about earlier, in two other states – Michigan and Nebraska – consumers have suffered when big liquor got its way with tax bills. After receiving tax cuts, liquor actually raised their prices on their products in Michigan and Nebraska. The real motive for those bills? Profit for big liquor companies.

In 2020, the beer industry in Vermont supported almost 7,000 jobs, accounting for over $300 million in total wages. It drove a total economic impact of $1 billion. The undeniable impact of the beer industry is one that must be fought for and preserved to help our communities recover from the pandemic. It’s unfortunate Vermont chose to give handouts to out-of-state hard liquor companies when the beer industry has done so much to support the local economy.