Lawmakers Move to Change State Fruit Tax

Mar 12, 2014

State lawmakers are moving to put apples and pears on equal footing, at least for tax purposes. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.


State tax law puts apple cider in the same category as wine. That carries a levy of just 16 cents a gallon. But, pear cider is now taxed at 84 cents a gallon, the same as beer. Lobbyist John Mangum who is pushing the measure, told lawmakers that so little pear cider is sold in Arizona that the loss to the state treasury would be less than $2,000 a year.

“So it doesn’t have a great big revenue impact. But it does matter to the people who grow pears and make pear cider,” Mangum said.

But, this is not being done for Arizona’s tiny pear-growing community. In fact, Annie Holcomb, owner of Apple Annie’s in Willcox, said she’s never even heard of pear cider and certainly isn’t selling any of her fruit for it.

The real winner is Mangum’s paying client, the MillerCoors brewing company which markets a product called Fox Barrel Pacific Pear Cider. It’s not cheap with a four-pack of 12-ounce bottles going for $6.49. And, the change wouldn’t make a big difference to shoppers. With the tax prorated, the cost of that four-pack would drop just a quarter — assuming that either MillerCoors or retailers pass on the savings to customers.

The version of the bill awaiting House action actually is a bit broader than what the Senate already approved, applying the lower tax to all pome fruits. Sean Laux from the Department of Revenue said it seemed simpler to make just one change in law now should someone decide to make cider from lesser-known relatives like quince.