US: Spirits group attacks state alcohol tax plans
Published:  19 May, 2009

US: The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) has attacked the Illinois state legislature’s plan to almost double excise tax on alcohol.

DISCUS  has branded the suggestion an “anti-tourism proposal” and the organisation said retailers are set to lose an estimated $225 million in retail sales and 4,500 jobs.

Council vice president Dale Szyndrowski said: “When the government is spending millions to boost tourism, I can’t think of a worse time to punish the very same hospitality businesses with increased alcohol taxes.

“Visitors coming to Chicago may want to consider staying in Wisconsin or Indiana if they plan to eat at a restaurant or enjoy a cocktail at a bar.” 

“Policymakers need to understand that a tax on alcohol hurts the entire hospitality industry – negatively impacting restaurants, hotels, bars, nightclubs and the thousands of men and women they employ.”

Szyndrowski also said that spirits are overtaxed considerably in Illinois, with well over half of the price of a typical bottle of spirits going toward taxes.  “In fact, such a tax would make Chicago’s spirits tax rate 77% higher even than New York City’s spirits tax rate,” added Szyndrowski.  

“As hospitality businesses throughout the state continue to struggle through this economic downturn, now is the worst time to hit these same businesses with higher taxes on alcohol.

“These businesses will see more customers traveling across the border to Wisconsin, Indiana or Missouri to skirt the higher rate.  When this happens, Illinois will lose more than alcohol sales and taxes – the state will also lose the general business activity when these consumers fill up their gas tanks, buy food and clothing, or choose hotels across the border,” he finished.