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Sure, California is a high-tax state, but not when you buy beer and whiskey

California can be considered a high-tax state, but not when you buy booze.

The state’s beer excise tax ranks 30th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to a new study from Washington’s Tax Foundation.

A separate report from the same research group found that California’s spirits tax ranked 40th.

“It seems like California is one of the friendliest states when it comes to alcohol,” said Adam Hoffer, director of excise policy at the Tax Foundation.

California’s state beer tax has remained steady at 20 cents per gallon since 1991. The excise tax on distilled spirits, such as whiskey and vodka, that are 100 proof or less is $3.30 per gallon.

Wyoming has the lowest beer tax, at 2 cents per gallon, followed by Missouri and Wisconsin, each at 6 cents. The highest tax is in Tennessee, $1.29, followed by Alaska at $1.07.

Of course, all this doesn’t mean that this is the only tax people pay on beer. There may also be local and federal taxes.

“Taxes are the most expensive ingredient in beer,” says Hoffer.

He found that state and local beer taxes “contribute more to the final price of beer than labor and raw materials combined.” Taxes often account for 40% of the price of a bottle or can of beer.

Part of the reason is that the federal government collects a tax whose amount depends on a company’s production, location and quantity.

In spirits, Washington state has the highest excise tax, $36.55 per gallon, followed by Oregon at $22.85.

The lowest taxes are found in Wyoming and New Hampshire.

“These two control states derive revenue directly from the sale of alcohol through government-run stores and have set prices so low that they are comparable to purchasing liquor without taxes,” the study said.

Hoffer could not say for certain why taxes on beer or spirits were lower in California than in other states. Dan Walters of Cal Matters reported last year that the liquor industry has been a powerful player in keeping taxes low for years.

Lower taxes have helped spur growth, said Brian Crawford, president and CEO of the Beer Institute in Washington, D.C., which represents the industry.

“Previous tax cuts have allowed brewers and beer importers to make long-term business decisions like reinvesting in their operations, hiring new employees and continuing to innovate and brew America’s favorite beers,” he said.