As the General Assembly debates a 50 percent increase to the sales tax on alcohol, here’s some background. It’s the comptroller’s fiscal 2010 report on alcohol excise taxes — not the sales tax — which can be helpful in terms of context.
Since the legislature bumped the sales tax across the board from 5 percent to 6 percent, wine and liquor sales continued to increase while beer sales have declined. That tax bump took effect January 2008, halfway through fiscal 2008, where the decline begins, but that could also have something to do with the recession that began a month before. Here’s the data:
|FY 2006||FY 2007||FY 2008||FY 2009||FY 2010|
|Beer||$ 9,447,020||$ 9,509,503||$ 9,451,537||$ 9,235,671||$ 9,137,176|
|Wine||$ 4,865,083||$ 5,100,636||$ 5,221,572||$ 5,365,296||$ 5,600,053|
|Liquor||$ 13,669,152||$ 14,165,195||$ 14,334,222||$ 14,707,951||$ 15,163,580|
The report also includes a county-by-county breakdown for alcohol consumption. In gallons:
It’s not that those counties at the top of the list are full of bigger drinkers. It could be that they just visit, or pop across the border to pick up a 30-pack or a bottle of liquor. Worcester County is home to Ocean City, which if you’ve been there during the summer, you can see why that county’s numbers are so. And those other counties at the top of the list border jurisdictions with higher alcohol excise taxes — Delaware — and others with more draconian blue laws — Pennsylvania.