HARRISBURG, PA – A growing coalition of hospitality organizations today assailed a proposed ten percent drink tax, calling it a job killer and citing an economic analysis released today by the Distilled Spirits Council forecasting the loss of 500 hospitality sector jobs.
“Increasing the already burdensome drink tax will hurt the Pittsburgh economy,” said Patrick Conway, CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant Association. “This will affect everyone from waitresses to busboys – not to mention the small business owners who will see their customers travel across county lines to avoid higher prices.”
The amendment, added over the weekend to House Bill 1590, includes a ten percent on-premise drink tax (beer, wine and spirits) for Alleghany County. The bill, likely to be voted on by the full Senate today, comes as Pittsburgh is revving up efforts to boost tourism—a move at odds with increasing taxes on tourism-related businesses.
“On the one hand, the Legislature has made boosting tourism a top priority for Pennsylvania,” said David Wojnar, Vice President of the Distilled Spirits Council. “With the other hand, they slap a tax on tourism related businesses and their workers. That just doesn’t make good business sense.”
Wojnar pointed out that Pennsylvania consumers already pay their fair share of taxes. “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 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.