Connecticut’s Hospitality Industry Hurt by Alcohol Tax Hike; Sunday sales will give needed financial boost to Connecticut’s economy
Hartford – The Distilled Spirits Council today urged the members of the Connecticut Joint Committee on Revenue, Finance and Bonding to consider repealing Connecticut’s Sunday alcohol sales ban as a revenue-raising alternative to the Governor M. Jodi Rell’s proposal to raise hospitality taxes. “A tax on alcohol is a tax on Connecticut’s hospitality industry,” said David Wojnar, Vice President of the Distilled Spirits Council, who will testify at today’s hearing on the tax increase. “Restaurants, hotels, liquor stores and workers who depend on them will pay the price for this increase in hospitality taxes.” The consumer and business-friendly solution is to allow Sunday alcohol sales. “This approach repeals Connecticut’s Prohibition-era Blue Law while bringing the state as much or more revenue,” Wojnar stated. “It gives consumers much greater convenience and stops the flood tide of revenue-draining cross-border sales.” The passage of Sunday alcohol sales in Connecticut could generate $6.7 million in new tax revenue, according to a study by Dr. Charles W. de Seve, President of the American Economics Group Inc. and former Director of Tax and Fiscal Studies for the New York State Assembly. Currently Connecticut state retailers are at a disadvantage in comparison to their neighboring states. “Not only do Massachusetts and Rhode Island offer Sunday sales and more flexible hours for their consumers but their tax rates are lower,” he said. In Connecticut, federal and state taxes already make up 50 percent of the retail cost of a standard bottle of spirits. States that have recently enacted Sunday sales have seen an immediate boost in revenue. Within the past three years, 11 states have passed legislation permitting year-round sales of alcohol on Sunday, bringing the number of states that have rolled back Blue Laws to 32. Connecticut remains the only Northeast state to maintain its Prohibition-era law. Newspapers throughout the state have supported the call for Sunday sales. A Hartford Courant editorial, published in January of this year, read: “Connecticut should finally revoke its long-standing restriction on Sunday liquor sales. Even those who support this antiquated statute will have to admit that it is putting state retailers at a disadvantage.” For a copy of the American Economics Group study, please contact Sarah Rosen.