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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.


Unknown said...

I live in WV. The state gov has already raised gas tax 10%, and now a huge 35% per drink? I am upset. I don't think restaurants and bars will group together to fight it.

Rick Lyke said...

It is amazing that these proposals around the country are facing little debate. West Virginia is the highest I've seen so far. If you are having a $4 pint of craft beer the new tab with the tax will be $5.40 -- and you know most bars will just round that up to $5.50. That means two beers would cost the average patron $11 -- I wonder how long before they do the math and say, boy I can get a six pack for home and have a few bucks left over. This is going to hurt the on-premise segment.