April 11, 2011

Tax increase on alcohol advancing in Md. House

Maryland’s House of Delegates on Saturday was angling to pass a targeted tax increase on alcohol for the first time in 38 years.

The House plan would collapse a three-year phase-in of the state sales tax on alcohol passed by the Senate into one year. Starting July 1, Maryland’s sales tax on beer, wine and spirits would jump from 6 percent to 9 percent, yielding about $85 million a year in new revenue.

Debate on the measure, which was approved by the Ways and Means Committee earlier Saturday, continued on the House floor past 10 p.m.

The measure still faces a final vote in the House and other hurdles before the General Assembly adjourns on Monday. The Senate has passed a measure that would raise the tax by 3 percentage points over three years.

The late-session move brought howls of protest from Republicans in the Democrat-led chamber. House Minority Leader Anthony J. O’Donnell (R-Calvert) accused the chamber of trying to “jam a tax down the throats of the citizens of Maryland.”

The higher rate would represent a partial victory for public health advocates and the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Coalition, which have lobbied for two years for a 10-cent per-drink tax increase to restore recessionary funding cuts made to social services. SOURCE: Washington Post

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