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Lawmakers Push Alcohol Tax Cut Despite Rising Drinking Rates

Deaths linked to alcohol are significantly more common than drug overdose deaths, but lawmakers may promote more drinking through a two-year tax break for producers of beer, wine and spirits as part of the Senate’s tax code overhaul. The tax break, for 2018 and 2019, would save alcohol producers $4.2 billion, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. The provisions in the Senate Finance Committee’s tax plan were requested by Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, but are based on a bill from Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the committee’s top Democrat. Supporters of the tax break emphasize its benefits for small brewers, whom they tout as job creators. But public health experts who study the link between taxes and alcohol consumption think the economic impacts are overstated, especially since the underlying idea is for people to buy more alcohol.

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