Tuesday, January 23, 2007
West Virginia Bill Could Cause Bar Tabs to Jump by 35 Percent
A bill before the West Virginia Legislature would allow counties to impose a per drink tax of up to 35 percent on all alcoholic beverages sold at bars and nightclubs. The Mountaineer State becomes the latest to target on-premise alcohol sales as a way to shore up rickety budgets.
Counties adopting the tax would be allowed to spend the funds for regional jail costs and fire and rescue services. While these are certainly important services, many voters in West Virginia say they had not heard of the proposal and were concerned that elected officials were trying to pass the bill before a public debate was held.
Many state governments are increasingly under pressure from local governments over unfunded mandates for a variety of social programs. Targeting drink sales at bars appears to be perceived as low hanging fruit by state legislators and without an organized response from bar and restaurant owners and patrons it is likely these types of taxes will proliferate.