Alcohol taxes are an evidence-based strategy to reduce excessive alcohol consumption and related harms. Extensive research shows that as the price of alcohol increases, consumption decreases. Accordingly, the harms associated with excessive consumption, including motor vehicle crashes, violence, and liver cirrhosis, also decrease.1 Taxes are one means by which to increase the cost of alcohol through policy.
Taxes can be enacted at the federal, state, and/or local level. They can take the form of excise taxes, which are calculated based on the volume of the beverage, or ad valorem taxes, which are calculated per price of the beverage being taxed. The types of taxes enacted and their levels vary greatly from state to state. Even within a given state, taxes often vary based depending on the type of alcoholic beverage (e.g., beer, wine, or distilled spirits).2
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Prevention Status Reports (PSRs) provide information on the status of alcohol excise taxes, by type of alcohol, across the 50 states and the District of Columbia.3 The following questions and answers are intended to assist readers in understanding and utilizing the information provided by the PSRs on Alcohol-Related Harms.