Selective Consumption Taxes in Historical Perspective
Excerpt from Adam J. Hoffer and Todd Nesbit, eds., For Your Own Good: Taxes, Paternalism, and Fiscal Discrimination in the Twenty-First Century. Arlington, VA: Mercatus Center at George Mason University, 2018.
22 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2018
Date Written: January 3, 2018
America’s history of selective consumption taxes dates back to the colonial era, when revolutionaries protested against taxes on tea and paper goods. While the Revolution was prompted in part by opposition to selective consumption taxes, this chapter describes how Alexander Hamilton implemented a selective consumption tax on whiskey to cover the American war debt shortly after America won its independence. The whiskey tax had characteristics common to selective consumption taxes we see today.
Keywords: taxation, sin taxes, economic history, Alexander Hamilton, whiskey, alcohol
JEL Classification: H2, H71
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation