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Yes, taxes matter

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board and Ray Carter Modified: June 14, 2013 at 2:42 pm •  Published: September 5, 2012

We’ve noted that Oklahoma’s liquor laws are overly complex and impede the free market. Defenders of the current system may take heart in the results of Washington state’s privatization of the liquor market. That would be a mistake.

Previously, the state of Washington owned liquor stores; nongovernmental sellers could only provide wine or beer. State voters recently approved a measure to privatize the industry. The number of retail outlets surged from 328 to more than 1,500.

You would expect that to lower costs to consumers, but liquor prices rose 17 percent. The reason for the increase wasn’t a bizarre side effect of greater competition, but significant taxes of 10 percent and 17 percent imposed on distributors and retailers, respectively.

Just as excessive regulation can reduce competition and drive up prices, excessive taxes can undermine the benefits of competition and punish consumers.


by Diana Baldwin
Sr. Reporter
Diana Baldwin has been an Oklahoma journalist since 1976 and came to The Oklahoman in 1991. She covered the Oklahoma City bombing and covered the downfall of Oklahoma City police forensic chemist Joyce Gilchrist misidentifying evidence. She wrote...
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