The attempt to levy a special 2% tax on alcohol beverages in Boston (see last Update) went down to defeat for the second straight year, the Distilled Spirits Council pointed out. Recall, the proposed tax was earmarked for substance abuse treatment. But the tax “remains unpopular among Boston residents,” the Council’s Jay Hibbard pointed out. Taxes already make up nearly half (47%) of retail spirits prices in Massachusetts, the Council figures. It could be worse. Despite a few years of tax relief in the United Kingdom, “more than three quarters – 77% ‒ of the average price paid for a bottle of whisky is tax,” according to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA). How’s that? The average price for a 70cl bottle of Scotch is now £12.80. Excise tax is £7.75 and VAT is £2.13, for just under £10 per bottle. Note too: Distilled Spirits Council uses a broader definition of “tax” than SWA.
Back in the states, Alaska state legislators are preparing a broad reform of the state’s alcohol laws. The effort to redraft the key state statute that regulates the business has been underway since 2012, reports the Juneau Empire, but only a few changes actually passed. Meanwhile, there has been a large increase in the number of retail licenses and, as in other states, significant expansion in the number of craft brewers. Among the Labor and Commerce Committee’s recommendations to modernize the laws:
- Increased license fees and penalties
- License consolidation and expansion, so breweries and distilleries can own restaurants
- Expanded product sampling
- Changes to the ABC board
- Expanded efforts to “stop bootlegging”