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Lobbyists Call For Increase In Beer Tax

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The cost of a six pack could go up 30 cents if some lobbyists in the Legislature have their way.

Supporters of a beer tax spent Tuesday at the General Assembly. They asked lawmakers to raise the tax for the first time in three decades.

Members of North Carolina Partners to Reduce Underage Drinking met with Sen. Tony Rand of Cumberland County. They were seeking the senator's support for an increase in the beer excise tax. It's 53 cents now, and it hasn't been raised since 1969.

The advocates want a 5-cent hike. They claim that not only will it increase the state's revenue and help the budget shortfall, but it also will reduce the effects of underage drinking, like drinking and driving.

Rand said a bill to raise the tax was introduced in the last session but didn't go forward. He thinks legislators will try again.

"This will be introduced shortly, I'm sure," Rand said, "and we'll go forward and see what we can do."

The beer tax in South Carolina is 77 cents -- 24 cents higher than the tax in North Carolina. So the advocates aren't worried about people crossing the border to buy their beer.

The 5-cent increase in North Carolina may not seem like a big deal, but it adds up. According to the Duke School of Public Policy, raising the tax by just a nickel would generate about $83 million for the state. That's 1.6 billion cans of beer per year that are sold in the state.