Florida Residents Pay 3rd Highest Wine Taxes in the Country, Says New Report

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If you like to drink wine and happen to be a Florida resident, listen up: you’re paying almost $3 per gallon in state wine taxes for your rosé!!!

According to a new analysis from the Tax Foundation, Florida wine drinkers pay the equivalent of $2.25 per gallon in state wine excise taxes. This information comes from a January 2020 data report from the Foundation. It was the third highest wine excise tax in the country after Alaska (#2, $2.50) and Kentucky (#1, $3.30).  

Excise taxes are internal taxes that are levied on the sale of specific goods and services, such as alcohol, fuel and tobacco. An excise tax is an indirect tax that is not paid by the customers directly but rather the excise tax is imposed on the supplier or the producer, who then includes it in the product price. 

Most states levy wine taxes based on volume, but other states impose other types of taxation. Minnesota places per-bottle fees that vary based on size. States can also impose additional layers of taxation based on alcohol content, wine type and other factors, the analysis reports.

A volume-based wine tax is the most common, but many states impose additional layers of taxes that vary based on wine type, container size, alcohol content, place of production, and place of purchase, among other factors. Arkansas and Tennessee, for example, levy case fees in addition to per-gallon taxes. Minnesota levies bottle fees that vary according to container size, taxing standard bottles at $0.01 and miniature bottles at $0.14.

Photo: www.taxfoundation.org

Like many excise taxes, the treatment of spirits varies widely across the states. Spirits excise rates may include a wholesale tax rate converted to a gallonage excise tax rate; case and/or bottle fees, which can vary based on size of container; retail and distributor license fees, converted into a gallonage excise tax rate; as well as additional sales taxes. (Note that this map does not include a state’s general sales tax, only taxes in excess of the general sales tax rate.) Rates may also differ within states according to alcohol content, place of production, or place purchased (such as on- or off-premise or onboard airlines).

The State of Florida’s definition of wine includes all beverages made from fresh fruits, berries, or grapes, either by natural fermentation or by natural fermentation with brandy added.

Florida has a long history with wine. St. Augustine, set against Florida’s northeast coast, is heralded as the birthplace of American wine, produced since about 1565. Our wine here in the Sunshine State is not only delicious but different too, because Florida’s winemakers often favor the Muscadine grape or other native grapes that stand up to Florida’s heat and humidity better than traditional wine grapes like Chardonnay or Merlot. Florida makes wines from tropical fruits, too.

Manufacturers and bottlers of wine in Florida are regulated by the State of Florida and the federal government. The Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (ABT) is authorized to issue two kinds of licenses for the production of wine in Florida: an AMW license (for wineries, cideries or meaderies that will manufacture or bottle wine) and a BMWC license (wineries that will manufacture wine or cordials). The fee for a permanent AMW license is $1,000, while the fee for a permanent BMWC license is $2,000 per year.