Question 1: Repeal The State Alcohol Tax?

By Peg Rusconi, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – Question 1 on the Nov. 2 state ballot asks voters if they want to repeal the 6.25 percent sales tax on alcohol.

A case of beer was a tax-free purchase until 14 months ago, when alcohol became subject to the state’s sales tax.

Read: Question 1 Petition

Liquor store owners like James Katz of Brookline Liquor Mart say it’s changed the customer’s mindset, and his bottom line.

“Knowing that $14.99 is going to actually come out to 16 bucks is having a detrimental impact on our business.”

His is in Brookline.  Store owners near the border of tax-free New Hampshire say the tax has really hurt them.  Opponents of the tax say it could translate to lost jobs.

The first month of the sales tax in August 2009 generated $8.7 million.   A year later that number jumped to $10.3 million, even with a sales tax holiday.  But the Department of Revenue says alcohol sales dipped about one percent over that first year.

According to the DOR, in fiscal year 2009, the alcohol sales tax generated $97 million.

“The revenues take care of so many people within our community,” says Kevin Norton of CAB Recovery Services.

He points out the tens of millions generated by the alcohol sales tax help fund substance abuse treatment.  He says losing that would be devastating.

“I think we’d see lots of people who no longer had access to care.  Lots of people would end up either in ER’s or jail.”

But liquor store owners point out excise tax is built in to the cost of every bottle, so sales tax is a tax on a tax.

“If we’re already paying excise taxes on the wine in the first place, why should there be an auxiliary tax?”

  • Deval Patrick Maintains Lead Over Charlie Baker In Massachusetts Governor’s Race Poll CBS Boston – News, Sports, Weather, Traffic and Boston's Best

    […] Question 1, which proposes to eliminate a new tax on alcohol sales, is losing 47 percent to 44 percent. […]

  • DStein

    Just another Deval Patrick tax allowing him to pick our pockets. Since liquor purchases already include a significant excise tax, we’re paying a tax on the tax. How greedy can Beacon Hill get?

  • jmr2

    How many taxes are on cigarettes? Put enough taxes on alcohol and maybe we will reduce the lives lost to drunk drivers. Let New Hampshire have all the drunk drivers it wants. New Hampshire has a long list of taxes too. It’s just not on the same things. What we need is a part-time legislature. By how much gets done, that’s all we need. Their perks are draining us dry. Only a few states have full-time legislatures. Let’s not be one of them.

  • Nicole

    JMR cigarettes are far more addictive than alchohol. Secondly there is already a tax. This law has done NOTHING to reduce drunk drivers because the state gives them our tax dollars!

  • Patty Ann

    Cigarettes have had 6 tax increases over the past 4 years (5 state, 1 federal). Don’t see anyone trying to repeal those taxes. Alcohol has had only 2 tax increases. The excuse that consumers will cross the border to NH to buy booze because of the tax is preposterous. Why? Because they’ve been going to NH to buy booze and cigarettes long before these tax increases. NH has historically been cheaper over the years. Repealing this tax will not change this, and won’t stop people from going to NH to buy smokes or beer.

    • Kat

      I never once voted to add more tax to cigarettes and booze when its been brought before the voters. It is unfair to target one group to fund what ever they claim the money will go to.

  • Voting to repeal

    Alcohol was not a tax free purchase! It has an excise tax on it. Get your facts straight. Depending on what you buy depends on how much you pay.
    Spirits tax $4.05/gallon
    Table wine $.55/gallon
    Beer $.11/per gallon
    then add the 6.25% on top of it. I would put money on it that the sales tax is calculated on the tax above too not on the base price.

  • Voting to repeal

    Another thought let’s repeal the bottle bill too. It is nothing but a tax. I don’t bother returning bottles and cans because my town has mandatory recycling and it is much easier to toss the cans in the bin and drag them to the street once a week. I would guess that most towns have recycling and the bottle bill was passed way back when to keep the streets clean.

  • Steve Daigle

    Vote Yes. Any time we voters have a chance to take back control of own money, we should grab it. Don’t worry, your kids will somehow survive all the prophetic catastrophic rhetoric.

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