Radio ad highlights devastating impact on the Allegheny County hospitality/tourism industry

HARRISBURG, PA – An expanding coalition of hospitality organizations today launched radio ads across Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County assailing a proposed ten percent drink tax—calling it a job killer and an unwarranted burden on the entire hospitality industry.  The ad points to the hypocrisy of legislators gearing millions of dollars toward boosting tourism, while at the same time proposing devastating taxes on tourism-related businesses and their workers.

“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 Patrick Conway, CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant Association.  “Whether they like it or not, this anti-hospitality industry stance will cost many servers, bartenders, and other employees their jobs.”

Supported by a coalition of eight* hospitality organizations, the ad highlights how a ten percent drink tax in Allegheny County will result in 500 lost jobs among Pittsburgh’s hospitality workers least able to afford it, according to a recent Distilled Spirits Council economic analysis.

“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,” said David Wojnar, Vice President of the Distilled Spirits Council. “At a time when the state is spending millions to attract tourists and conventions to help stimulate the hospitality industry, it makes no sense to even consider a tax. Allowing the power to tax is as bad as implementing a tax.”

Wojnar noted 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.

*Members of the anti-drink tax coalition include the Distilled Spirits Council, Pennsylvania Restaurant Association, Pennsylvania Tourism and Lodging Association, Greater Pittsburgh Hotel Association, Pennsylvania Federation of Fraternal and Social Organizations, Pennsylvania Tavern Association, Wine Institute and American Beverage Licensees.

To listen to the radio ad currently up in Pittsburgh, click here.

See attached script:

Announcer: The following message paid for by the Distilled Spirits Council and a coalition of Pennsylvania hospitality associations.

Music/SFX: Restaurant/bar ambient noise with music playing in the background up and under…

Waitress: Isn’t it amazing that on one hand the politicians spend millions of our tax dollars to promote hospitality and tourism in Allegheny County — then with the other hand they want to give Allegheny County the power to slap us with a new 10-percent hospitality tax.

I’m a waitress, not an economist, but that doesn’t make good business sense to me.

Not only do we already have among the highest hospitality taxes in the region, they want to add another 10-percent tax in Allegheny County. That means 500 people like me – waitresses, waiters, bartenders and others in the hospitality industry – 500 local folks like us will lose our jobs.

That’s the real economic impact of allowing their tax hike. They get more of your money to spend, and we lose our jobs.

We need to tell these politicians they should just do a better job of spending what they have.

So let’s all call our state legislators and tell them to vote against the 10-percent drink tax. Here’s the number: (717) 787-7163. Got it? (717) 787-7163.

And thanks. Making that call is the best tip you could ever give today.