BOSTON (AP) — A task force on Thursday released its recommendations for overhauling the state’s arcane alcohol laws, some of which date to the end of Prohibition in 1933.

The report contains recommendations that could mean higher booze prices from higher excise taxes but could also end or amend some confusing and annoying rules. It also proposes ways to battle alcohol consumption by the underage and other vulnerable populations, while spurring economic growth.

The seven-member task force said it considered that “ways to purchase alcohol are changing with time and technology; buying habits of younger generations are evolving; and the market itself is changing as evidenced by increasing numbers of craft and farmer breweries, wineries, and distilleries in Massachusetts and across the country.”

Proposals include increasing state excise taxes on beer, wine and liquor and earmarking the revenue for alcohol education and treatment.

Massachusetts does not have a sales tax on liquor, but excise taxes paid by distributors are generally baked into consumer prices.

The task force also recommends abolishing the limit on the number of alcohol licenses grocery store chains can hold and allowing bars to accept out-of-state photo IDs.

The task force was put together by Treasurer Deborah Goldberg in February. The treasurer’s office oversees the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, which enforces state liquor laws.

Goldberg said her office will review the recommendations, some of which would require legislative approval.

The recommendations were made with input from the alcohol-related organizations and businesses, consumers and independent research and studies.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (2)
  1. Stan Bowers says:

    A Massachusetts committee that wants to raise taxes? Who would have ever thunk it….

  2. Barry Clark says:

    The booze excise taxes have been eroded by inflation. The task force recommended that the taxes on beer, wine, and hard liquor be increased by around 50%. Going forward, they should also be indexed for inflation.

    Even with the task force’s recommended increase, the MA booze taxes would still be considerably less than the 20% tax on marijuana.

    The task force went easy on hard cider. The current tax is only 3¢/gallon for a maximum alcohol content of 6%. It wants to raise that limit to 8.5% alcohol. And while it recommended that the tax on other booze types be increased by 50%, it did not recommend an increase in the hard cider tax. In contrast, MA currently taxes beer at 10.6¢/gallon, with a recommendation that it be increased to 16¢/gallon. If the task force’s recommendations are adopted, a light beer with a 4.2% alcohol content would be taxed at 5.3 times the rate of 8.5% alcohol hard cider.

    Hard cider’s privileged position also includes it being exempt from the MA bottle deposit law.

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