As a “Friend of Harpoon Brewery” is received an interesting email yesterday and if you are a resident of Massachusetts I think you should act on the following by calling your state representative and senator [read on for some opinionating from me]. I’m not against a sales tax on alcohol, I’m against a sales tax on alcohol in addition to several other contradictory taxes and fees. Eliminate those other fees and add the sales tax, fine:
There is a very important political discussion taking place on Beacon Hill that will affect all of us. As lawmakers finalize the fiscal year 2010 budget, they have unexpectedly included a new 6.25% tax on alcohol. This is the result of the combination of raising the sales tax from 5% to 6.25% and of applying the sales tax to alcohol for the first time. Keep in mind that while beer is not currently subject to sales tax in Massachusetts, it is subject to both state and federal excise taxes, corporate taxes, and other fees totaling on average about 37% of the retail price of a case of beer. That’s $8.88 in a $25.00 case of beer. Do you want to pay an additional 6.25% at the cash register? Didn’t think so.
What can YOU do?
Call or email your State Representative and Senator. You can use this link to find contact information for your legislators . Please tell them to oppose the application of the 6.25% sales tax to beer. This discussion is going on NOW. Please contact them NOW. We are all facing economic challenges right now. The last thing we need is to pay more for one of life’s true remaining simple pleasures: enjoying a cold Harpoon on a warm summer afternoon!
Here are some particularly influential legislators to contact:
|Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Revere)||Robert.DeLeo@state.ma.us||617-722-2500|
|Rep. Charles Murphy (D-Burlington)
House Chairman of Ways in Means
I already have a lot of problems with alcohol policy in the state of Massachusetts but this new tax could be one straw too many. Let me go over the short list:
- Prohibiting Direct Mail of Alcohol to Residents: If you were a wine club member in other states and move to Massachusetts, sorry, but you can’t receive your shipments any more. A state rep I talked to told me that this was done “to protect local producers” which is ridiculous as the only thing it does it hurt local producers. Why is this? Because states act reciprocally, when we ban shipments from them, they ban shipments from us. In the Berkshires, where we have several local producers of wine, cider, and distilled beverages, we also have a huge amount of tourist visitors – these local producers can not ship their product to these visitors because of this law. It’s a classic example of how to squash an industry in its infancy.
Why is Massachusetts doing this? Because the state is beholden to distributors who spend big bucks with politicians. Just go to your local “package” store and special order some wine (wine selection in MA is pitiful) and be dismayed by the outrageous markup due to distributor charges.
- Limited Alcohol Sales in Supermarkets/Drug Stores: Only a handful of licenses have been given to supermarkets (none to drug stores) and the vast majority of these are only for beer and wine sales. Limited access means limited competition and thus higher prices for a limited choice of products.
- Store Alcohol Sales Prohibited on Sundays: The ancient blue laws can’t be put to death. The law has been relaxed a bit for people living within a certain distance from the border with a state that does sell alcohol on Sundays. Think about it though, you can’t buy a six pack of beer on the way to a Sunday BBQ but you can get hammered in some local seedy tavern. It makes no sense.
- Drunk Driving OK on Snowmobiles: Every year we have several deaths, and countless injury accidents involving drunk snowmobilers in the Berkshires and the drunk snowmobilers involved can’t be charged with DWI because there is no law against it. There are also a ton of drunk ATV riders involved in accidents in the area but even if there was a law against DWI snowmobiling the state has gutted the means to enforce it – the Berkshires have more state land and state park acreage than any other county in Massachusetts but there are supposedly only 2 or 3 officers for this huge land area. In my very active use of state trails over the past 8 years (hundred of miles of hiking, thousands of miles of XC skiing and biking) I have never seen a state officer on a trail in Massachusetts. By contrast, in my much more limited usage (perhaps 40 miles of hiking, 300 miles of XC skiing) of the trail system in Vermont, I have encountered state officers 3 times.
Thankfully I live not even 5 miles from a package store on the New York side of the border. If the proposed tax goes through, that will probably be enough for me to take the short drive thus denying Massachusetts _any_ revenue from the sale. I know I won’t be the only one doing this. I’m also seriously considering dusting off my home beer brewing set up.
If you are a Massachusetts resident, please use this link to find contact info for your legislators and call/email them.
Try to get them to justify these industry-killing policies as well as the hypocrisy of not criminalizing alcohol abusers.