HARRISBURG, PA – The Distilled Spirits Council today denounced a bill passed by the Pennsylvania State Legislature that includes legislation giving Allegheny County politicians the power to raise the drink tax by ten percent.
“Giving Allegheny County the power to impose a 10 percent tax on the hospitality industry is as good as signing the tax on the dotted line,” said David Wojnar, Council Vice President. “It’s time for political leaders in Pennsylvania, especially those that represent Allegheny County, to recognize that drink taxes are really just taxes on the hospitality and tourism industry.”
House Bill 1590, the transportation funding bill, contains a ten percent local option drink tax exclusively for Allegheny County.
Added Wojnar: “This unfair tax will cost many servers, bartenders, and other employees their jobs—at a time when the state is spending millions to boost tourism. It’s bad politics, but even worse policy.”
Wojnar pointed out that Pennsylvania’s spirits taxes are already among the highest in the region. “Even New York has a lower tax burden on spirits,” he said. “Nearly half the price of a typical bottle of spirits in Pennsylvania already goes to taxes and fees.”
Currently, distilled spirits excise taxes for Pennsylvania ($6.54/gallon) rank second among all six states that border it: New York ($6.44); New Jersey ($4.40); Delaware ($3.75); West Virginia ($1.70); and Maryland ($1.50); Ohio is the only neighboring state whose excise tax exceeds that of Pennsylvania.
Wojnar further noted the irony that Allegheny County is the same county that sparked the renowned Whiskey Rebellion in 1794, when an uprising of farmers banded together to oppose the liquor tax by the government.