Proposed Delaware alcohol tax increases draw criticism

The Delaware legislature is considering raising alcohol taxes to help plug a hole in the state budget, but the alcohol industry is fighting back. Matthew Albright has the story for The News Journal:

Critics of proposed increases to taxes on income, alcohol and cigarettes packed Legislative Hall on Wednesday to argue the hikes could hurt the state's small businesses and economy.

Legislative leaders said they didn't like asking for tax hikes, but said they were a necessary evil given that state government is still in a budget hole of hundreds of millions of dollars...

The tax that drew the most criticism Wednesday was a plan to raise taxes on beer, wine and spirits. So many distributors, brewery owners and liquor store owners flooded the basement hearing room that legislative staffers had to herd them into the cafeteria, where the meeting was shown on a television screen.

'Prices will go up. Of this, there is no doubt,' said Jay Hibbard, vice president of the Distilled Spirits Council. 'When prices go up, sales go down.'

Schwartzkopf said he intends to file an amendment to lower the amount of the proposed increase from what was originally proposed.

Here are the new rates: on a six-pack of beer, from 9 cents to 15 cents; on 750 milliliters of wine, from 19 cents to 32 cents; on 750 milliliters of spirits, from 74 cents to 89 cents. 

Representatives of several Delaware breweries, including Iron Hill and Dogfish Head, said the tax increase would harm a budding industry...."

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