Sunday, January 10, 2010

Licensed Beverage Dealers vs Their Customers

The licensed beverage dealers are really on the warpath against their customers. Don’t get me wrong here. I am no teetotaler. I regularly patronize our local bars and liquor stores. Lately though, they just haven’t been returning the favor.

First there was the initiative to limit the number of liquor store licenses in the county. With Delegates Guy Guzzone and Warren Miller in their pockets, the local liquor store owners are trying to sell the idea that this will help curb underage drinking. Nice try. The only thing that this law will do is limit consumer choice by protecting the existing liquor stores from future competition. Anyone who believes that this will actually curb underage drinking is completely delusional.

To add insult to injury, the licensed beverage dealers are also unwilling to bear a fair share of the state tax burden. Maryland liquor stores, bars and restaurants enjoy one on the lowest liquor excise taxes in the United States. The U.S. median liquor excise tax is $3.75 per gallon. In Maryland it’s $1.50 per gallon. If the state would increase this tax by just a dime it would still be among the lowest in the country yet it would raise $214 million in much needed state revenue. Our Delegates who seem to care so much about underage drinking don’t support this idea though.

The bars and restaurants that we all support claim that this dime increase would hurt their businesses in these trying economic times. I seem to recall that they made the same claim about the smoking ban a few years back and that doesn’t seem to have had an overly adverse effect on the bars and restaurants I frequent.

So far the only local state lawmaker to come out in support of increasing the liquor tax is Liz Bobo. It’s ironic that she is the only one who so far has the balls to stand up against the powerful liquor lobby in Maryland.


Freemarket said...

I am more for cutting spending than raising taxes. I like your idea of doing away with the State Delegation to save money, although I am not sure how serious your suggestion was.

Lots of food items are not taxed at all. What is your basis for wanting to raise booze taxes over a tax on groceries? If you want to talk about paying a "fair share of the State tax burden" you should be advocating a tax on baby food (which I assume is not taxed but I don't know for sure) or any number of other non-taxed things.

How much revenue would taxing milk "just a dime" per gallon raise?

Freemarket said...

Btw, WB, your numbers as presented are very misleading. If raising the liquor tax 10 cents per gallon raises $214 million in revenue, that means that 2.14 billion gallons of liquor is consumed in Maryland. Given that there are around 6 million people in Maryland, each resident (including those under 21 who cannot legally drink) would have to drink a gallon of liquor a day to generate that revenue off a dime increase.

I think you mean increasing the tax 10 cents PER DRINK, which would probably be a tax increase of well over $1 per gallon (I'm not sure how many drinks are in a gallon).

I'm telling you, the baby food tax is the way to go if you want a regressive tax :-)

wordbones said...


My bad. You're right about the increase being per drink not per gallon. Still, this would be a modest increase.

And yes, I am serious about wanting to abolish the House of Delegates but am realistic in knowing that the political courage to do so in the free state is lacking.


Freemarket said...

The fact that you are standing alone with Liz Bobo on this one means that you need to step back and really make sure you have an extra strong case, and I don't think you have one.

I even call B.S. on the notion of a $214 million increase in revenue from a 10 cent per drink increase until I see the specific detail in how that was computed.

Tax baby food!

Anonymous said...

tax babies!

Anonymous said...

Tax babies? You guys are cracking me up.

sv said...

It would be nice to buy beer & wine in grocery stores too, but the liquor store lobby makes sure that can't happen. They will not allow chain stores to get licenses to limit competition.