Alcohol is taxed enough, and, by the way, it’s not a ‘sin’ tax

While your recent editorial arrived at the correct conclusion that Boston should not implement a hospitality tax that voters already overwhelming rejected (“Boston-only alcohol tax would be an unfair burden,” Feb. 27), there is additional economic evidence that should be considered.

First, the tax rejected in 2010 lasted only one year because voters witnessed the negative impact of double taxation on consumers and the hospitality industry. When the state imposed a sales tax on top of the excise tax for beverage alcohol, border stores lost 10 to 40 percent of their sales.

In addition, even conservative estimates project that the new tax would result in approximately $7 million in lost revenue for package stores in Boston. Moreover, Boston restaurants and bars would lose more than $3 million in revenue as a result of higher prices. More than 130 jobs would be lost in the process overall.


I take exception, however, to your notion that there is nothing “wrong with ‘sin’ taxes on items like alcohol.” Responsible consumption of distilled spirits, beer, or wine is a socially acceptable part of a normal, healthy, adult lifestyle. Alcohol taxes are not “sin” taxes; rather, they are hospitality taxes, and responsible businesses and consumers already pay their fair share. In fact, 47 percent of the retail price of a bottle of spirits in Massachusetts currently goes to a tax of some kind.

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Boston consumers and the hospitality industry deserve to be heard by their representatives. The City Council should respect the will of the voters and reject the institution of a double tax on alcohol.

Jay Hibbard

Vice president

Distilled Spirits Council

of the United States