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Ohio's Alcohol And Cigarette Tax Revenue Spiked As Pandemic Took Hold

Rhinegeist Brewery in Cincinnati is one of three major breweries in Ohio boosting the state's craft beer production.

The state budget is a sea of red, as income and sales tax collections are less than half of what was predicted for this month. But tax revenue from alcohol and cigarettes saw a big spike last month as Ohioans were at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Alcoholic beverage tax revenue is up by 24.4%, the tax take from liquor is 13.6% higher than projections, and cigarette tax collections are up 20.5% for April.

Office of Budget and Management Director Kim Murnieks said that’s just a small portion of the overall budget, but it’s not good news.

“Obviously that is not, from a health perspective, something that we ever want to see, and that could, of course, pose challenges going into the future," Murnieks said.

Murnieks said it can be hard for forecasters to predict what will come in from those smaller tax categories, which could explain why those areas are up so much from projections.

But she notes sales of alcohol and tobacco during this pandemic have been soaring nationwide.

Ohio has limited sales of cigarettes to people over 21, which was expected to decrease the amount of tax revenue from that source.