Wine, Spirits Tax Hike a Threat To Arkansas Hospitality Industry

LITTLE ROCK, AR – A bill being considered by the Arkansas Legislature to increase the excise tax on spirits and wine would punish small businesses and harm the hospitality industry, despite Arkansas’ nearly $850 million budget surplus, according to the Distilled Spirits Council.

“A tax on spirits and wine is a tax on the entire hospitality industry,” said Donald Butler, manager of Overton’s Liquor Store in Forrest City, Arkansas.  “It’s shameful that with a substantial budget surplus, workers in Arkansas’ hospitality industry still need to watch out for their jobs.  That just isn’t right.”

Senate Bill 795 calls for a five percent tax to be levied on all off-premise wine and distilled spirits purchases.  The bill passed the Senate yesterday and is currently awaiting action by the House Rules Committee, chaired by Representative David Dunn.

“It’s the hard-working small business owners and their employees who will suffer for this ill-advised tax hike,” said Dale Szyndrowski, Vice President of the Council.

Szyndrowski noted that distilled spirits are already considerably overtaxed in Arkansas with more than half of the price of a typical bottle of spirits going toward taxes.

“If passed, this proposal would not only tax the cost of spirits and wine purchased by Arkansas customers, it would also tax the taxes already assessed on these products,” he said.  “This targets small businesses and will certainly harm the local hospitality industry.”