RALEIGH, NC – The State Senate’s proposal to increase the excise tax on alcohol will punish small businesses and cost hundreds of jobs throughout the state hospitality industry, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

“In the depths of one of the worst recessions in history, I can’t think of a worse time for North Carolina politicians to punish the hospitality industry with higher alcohol taxes,” said Council Vice President David Wojnar, who noted that well-over half the price of a typical bottle of spirits purchased in North Carolina already goes toward taxes.

“Policymakers need to understand that a tax on alcohol is a tax on the entire hospitality industry – negatively impacting restaurants, hotels, bars, nightclubs and liquor stores, and the thousands of men and women they employ.  When the state hospitality industry is already struggling, this is the wrong time, the wrong tax and the wrong people to punish with increased alcohol taxes,” he added.

Wojnar noted that North Carolina has already lost over 11,000 hospitality jobs in the last year due to the recession and that increasing the alcohol tax rate will destroy hundreds more.

Regarding the proposal, a recent news story quoted one senator as suggesting the proposed tax plan will put an excise tax based on alcohol content — suggesting that some beverages will be taxed at a higher rate than others.  According to the report, the senator said that “we are trying to keep the lesser effect on beer, because that is the drink of choice of most of us.”

Wojnar questioned the merits of any public policy decision that punished middle-class or lower-income individuals who might prefer a cocktail or glass of wine.  He said all excise taxes are known to be the most regressive form of taxation, impacting persons of lower income far more than the wealthy.   “If the State Senate is serious about protecting the working class, they shouldn’t raise taxes on beer, wine or spirits,” he stated.