The Dirty Dozen: 12 States That Bet Big on Sin

By Nikhil Hutheesing - 2013-06-26T17:36:00Z

Photograph by Walter Bibikow/eStock 

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Sin Taxes, Percentage of Revenue: 4.66%
Total Sin Tax Revenue (2012): $821.6 million

When Washington State privatized sales of alcohol last June, it wasn't clear the move would pay off, partly because of the costs of shutting the state’s liquor business. One year later, it looks like the strategy was a success. Liquor is available at more than 1,400 retailers now instead of 329 state-run stores, and new fees, such as a 10 percent charge distributors have to pay, are adding to revenue. 

The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council, an independent agency, projects that spirit taxes and fees will generate $425 million in revenue for fiscal 2013, up from $309 million in fiscal 2012. Cigarette and tobacco taxes brought in $471.3 million in 2012, down 1.6 percent from a year earlier even though Washington has the fifth-highest tax on cigarettes, $3.025 per pack. Sin tax revenue could grow more: Washington has legalized the recreational use of marijuana.