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Madville Times Bill 103: Reduce Food Tax, Increase Hooch Tax

Last updated on 2014.01.06

Here's #3 from reader suggestions for bills to send to the South Dakota Legislature. Your conversation addressed a number of taxation issues relating to food, alcohol, and other products. P&R Miscellany's mention today of his desire to repeal the ban on mail-order wine in South Dakota almost got me to incorporate elements of last year's Senate Bill 100... but there's only so much one should try to do with one piece of legislation, especially you're trying convince South Dakota legislators to sponsor a grassroots proposal.

So, in a few short lines (and yes, our friends at the LRC would likely need to track down some conflicting legislation for us to strike in additional sections), let's lower the food tax, raise the alcohol tax, and give local food and hooch a tax break!

Madville Times Bill 103

FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to revise sales tax rates for food and alcoholic beverages.


Section 1: The state shall tax retail sales of food eligible for purchase under Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Guidelines at a rate of 1%.

Section 2: Municipalities may tax retail sales of food eligible for purchase under Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Guidelines at a rate no higher than 0.5%.

Section 3: The state shall tax retail sales of alcoholic beverages at a rate of 20%.

Section 4: Municipalities may tax retail sales of alcoholic beverages at a rate no higher than 5%.

Section 5: Sales of food and alcoholic beverages produced in South Dakota and sold directly by their producers to consumers in South Dakota shall be taxed at half the rates established by state statute and municipal ordinance.

The floor is open for debate, amendment, and parliamentary shenanigans.


  1. Deb Geelsdottir/ 2014.01.03


  2. Oldguy 2014.01.04

    I can't believe the tax hasn't been raised . Makes perfect sense

  3. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.01.04

    Need to make sure that the booze tax increase goes to the counties to offset their increased cost of alcohol related law enforcement.

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.01.04

    Lanny, we could arrange that. Since we are lowering the food tax, perhaps some of the alcohol revenues should offset that loss to the general fund. How about...

    "Section 6. 50% of revenues from the state sales tax on alcoholic beverages shall be disbursed to county governments. Counties shall use revenue disbursed under this law solely to supplement law enforcement budgets."

  5. Les 2014.01.04

    Too much law enforcement and not enough social care Cory.

  6. interested party 2014.01.04

    "Meat should be taxed to encourage people to eat less of it, so reducing the production of global warming gases from sheep, cattle and goats, according to a group of scientists."

  7. Les 2014.01.04

    Lar's got "gas".

  8. Stan Gibilisco 2014.01.04

    Larry, I be the king of the magnates of malarkey, the fearless leader of the barons of baloney, and the supreme commander of the sultans of stupidity.

    RU trying to strip those laurels from me?

  9. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.01.04

    Les, the booze tax costs are not for more law enforcement but if you have been paying attention to Commissioners Barth and Kelly, for the additional costs that the county incurs in housing dui offenders, twice daily breath tests as well as the family poverty caused by the excess consumption of alcohol. Have you ever been down to the courthouse when they are conducting the twice daily breath tests. The long lines are a real eye opener.

  10. Les 2014.01.04

    Fortunately I have not seen or been down those long lines Lanny. I quit the excess liquor 22years ago sidestepping law enforcement for many years prior. I think there is a better way with electronics. Maybe a sensor implant reading breath wired to a taser implant wired to your.... Well, you get the pic.
    A little gal working the restaurant near me had a back injury and became hooked on the prescrip narcs. She was a Dr narc shopper and got busted. They made her drive 34 miles daily to test, financed by her $8/hr plus tips. No social treatment, maybe none necessary. She will eventually be on disability and we will foot the whole bill. At least she was/is trying to make it on her own.
    Yes Lanny, the liquor industry, gambling industry and the pharmies get the profits and we get the addictions.

  11. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.01.05

    Larry, you're taxing my sausage! No way! :-)

    Relevant to the hooch tax is David Montgomery's Thursday post about how 23% of alcohol drinkers (folks who binge-drink) consume 76% of the alcohol consumed in the U.S.

  12. interested party 2014.01.05

    All you alls: American production and consumption of land-based animal protein is contributing to obesity, heart disease and more yet the industry enjoys billions in subsidies then whines when ObamaCare stresses wellness.

  13. Stan Gibilisco 2014.01.05

    Also for you alls: Stan Gibilisco loves meat of all kinds and eats it in enormous amounts. He also swims a mile a day and in general maintains an active lifestyle. At age 60, he measures 5 feet 6 inches tall and tips the scale at 120 pounds. Those dimensions are the same as they were in the same carcass at age 15.

    He does, however, swim slower than he did in 1969.

    His last drink was in 1988. Between 1980 and 1987, he evolved from a teetotaler into a raging, category 5 alcoholic. So he knows a little bit about addiction.

    He has this to say about a hooch tax: True addicts will pay it, and keep on consuming their hooch in the same amounts as they otherwise would. Where will the money come from? Rich and middle class addicts will absorb the cost. Poor addicts will take it out of their food budget, hastening their demise into desolation, destitution, and death.

    In other words, Cory, the hooch tax makes for a beautiful theory; but like so many other beautiful theories, the real world will turn out to have other ideas.

    I can offer no solution to the addiction problem, but a hooch tax ain't it.

    Maybe prayer will work.

    I don't know, honestly, why the Higher Powers saw fit to spare me an almost certain violent, ugly, and generally horrific crash into cosmic hell ... but here I be. Maybe Aiag, the demon goddess of the dying earth, saw fit to keep me here so I could bug you, and in general just make an arse out of myself.

  14. Wayne B. 2014.01.07

    Up to 25% tax on hooch... Seems to be begging a grey market.

    Query on the food tax - since it's tied to SNAP, which tax takes precedent if a hot sandwich from a deli counter is able to be bought using SNAP funds? Is it taxable at the 4% rate, the 1% rate, and/or does the Bed Bath & Booze tax apply too?

  15. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.01.07

    Wayne, you complicate my day! SNAP guidelines say hot food and food to be eaten in the store are not eligible. Thus, your hot sandwich at the deli counter appears not to satisfy Section 1. The state tax would be 4%; bed and booze tax still applies.

  16. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.01.07

    Stan, I hate to think I'm creating a regressive tax. I guess that's unavoidable if I'm monkeying with a sales tax. Does the reduction of the regressive burden on eaters buy me any forgiveness for increasing the regressivity on drinkers?

  17. grudznick 2014.01.07

    Eaters should not be punished.

  18. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.01.13

    A North Dakota official says alcohol is related to a quarter of her state's crimes; the CDC says excessive drinking costs North Dakota $420 million each year.

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