Fighting Alcohol Taxes is a new site launched by the American Beverage Institute (ABI), the Washington, D.C.-based on-premise industry advocacy group. The site offers updates on pending alcohol tax legislation as well as information about the impact of increased spirits, wine, beer and drink taxes on the economy, employment and actual tax revenue collection. In addition, visitors are able to send a letter to the Senate Finance Committee opposing an increase to the federal excise tax on alcohol as a means of funding President Obama’s health care plan.

Alcohol is always at risk for tax increases, however, the progress of health care reform legislation — the Affordable Health Care for America Act passed the House on Saturday — has put industry associations and operators into high gear. Other groups lobbying against alcohol tax increases include the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. (DISCUS); visit its site at for information and links to communicate with legislators.

State legislators also are eyeing alcohol for tax increases. DISCUS is now active in the fight against a 58 percent liquor tax hike proposed by the Wisconsin state legislature; the organization reports that such an increase will cause the loss of 1,250 jobs in the struggling state. Last week, New Mexico lawmaker Rep. Brian Egolf (D) vowed to introduce a dime-a-drink tax in 2010.

Editor’s Note: Increased taxes on alcohol will affect your bar business. At this point, 59 percent of the cost of a bottle of spirits goes to local, state and federal taxes, according to DISCUS, and ABI estimates 40 percent of the cost of a drink is taxes. Higher alcohol taxes typically lead to higher drink prices, which, in this economic environment, will undoubtedly cause consumers to think twice about ordering drinks while in your establishment. Get involved!


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