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Driving Hospitality Out of Boston

The Boston Herald has come out in opposition to the City Council’s proposed 2% sales tax on all beer, wine and distilled spirits sold in Boston:

Editorial: Still hooked on taxes

Massachusetts voters sent a clear message a few years back that double-taxation is unacceptable, when they voted to repeal the extra tax that Beacon Hill had slapped on alcohol sales. Booze is already subject to an excise tax at the wholesale level.

But now two Boston city councilors want another bite at the fermented apple. City Council President Bill Linehan and Councilor Frank Baker have proposed a 2 percent municipal tax on the sale of alcohol in Boston, with the revenue from the tax earmarked for substance abuse services in the city . . .

It’s a worthy cause, no argument there.

But it’s also the same one Beacon Hill used to justify that 2009 tax — and voters didn’t support it then, either . . .

So to this vexing challenge Linehan and Baker bring their best idea, which also happens to be the laziest: A tax on the legal sale of alcohol — one voters have rejected and businesses in the city vehemently oppose.

Consumers would barely feel the pinch, supporters will argue. That’s a weak rationale for the inherent unfairness in taxing them twice for the same product. And while the addiction crisis will someday abate, you can bet the tax will be with us forever. Surely Linehan and Baker have enough time in their day to come up with more creative solutions than this one.

A recent Boston Globe editorial strongly opposes the City Council’s proposal to tax all beer, wine and distilled spirits sold in Boston:

THE CITYWIDE alcohol tax proposed by two Boston city councilors is well-meaning but misguided . . .

But a new sales tax on alcohol is not the best way to treat addiction. Alcohol is already subject to an excise tax. And in a statewide 2010 referendum, voters repealed a law passed by the Legislature that would have imposed an additional 6.25 percent sales tax. What’s more, the new city tax — a home rule petition that would require passage by the Legislature and the governor’s signature — would place an unfair burden on Boston, and its restaurants and liquor retailers, to help solve a statewide problem. Why should the liquor purveyors of surrounding communities benefit from such an unfair advantage?

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