News

Preckwinkle tries to make the case that raising the alcohol tax is good public policy 

Friday, November 18, 2011 4:11:36 PM
Source: Chicago Sun Times
November 8
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has had things pretty much her way since taking over a year ago from Todd Stroger - and with good reason.
She's kept the faith with her campaign promises to repeal an unpopular sales tax increase, reining in spending, and just as important, conveyed a new period of responsible and thoughtful leadership.
But as her second county budget heads toward a vote next week, some commissioners are looking to test the limits of her honeymoon popularity by reshaping the proposal more to their liking.
The main object of their attention is Preckwinkle's plan to increase the county's tax on beer, wine and liquor.
It's a modest increase, to my thinking, amounting to less than two cents on a six-pack of beer, two to three cents on a bottle of wine and 10 cents on a fifth of the hard stuff.
Altogether, Preckwinkle estimates the alcohol tax would generate an additional $10.9 million a year in revenue, partially making up for the money the county will forgo by peeling back another quarter-cent off its sales tax this year.
But the increase comes on top of existing state, county and city alcohol taxes that already combine to make a Chicago drinker's tax load among the highest in the country.
That has fueled a strong pushback from bars and restaurants who say the tax increase will cost them business - as customers drink less or buy their booze outside the county - and ultimately eliminate jobs.
In response, some Democratic commissioners are looking to team with the board's four Republicans to find an alternative revenue source, or more spending cuts, to fill the hole that would be left in the budget.
Preckwinkle is sticking to her guns and making the case that raising the alcohol tax is good public policy, not just the next convenient sin tax now that governments have pushed cigarette taxes to the limit.
She argues - correctly - that alcohol consumption is a factor in driving up the cost of two of the main functions of county government: public health and public safety.
By raising the alcohol tax, she hopes to reduce alcohol consumption while recouping some of what the county pays to treat patients adversely affected by their alcohol use - and make up for part of what the county spends on courts and jails for those who commit crimes under the influence.
Her staff even directed me to a Duke University economist who contends raising alcohol taxes can reduce crime. The professor, Philip Cook, says his studies have shown that as the price goes up, alcohol use and crime go down. How? Well, for instance, a teenager can't afford to buy that second six pack and therefore might not make a bad decision.
Cook suggests a 55-cent tax on a bottle of beer would reduce crime 6 percent. The topic is complicated by the fact alcohol is taxed by the gallon in Illinois, and the tax is imposed on wholesalers, not consumers, although obviously it gets passed along.
Just to give you an idea, though, the total alcohol tax on beer purchased in Chicago is 58 cents a gallon - 23 cents state, 29 cents city and 6 cents county.
In other words, even if you accept Cook's thesis, the county alcohol tax increase would barely be enough to move the crime needle.
"If it's a very small price increase, you'll get a very small result," Cook said. Still, he argued, "It's going in the right direction."
You don't need to totally buy into that to recognize the great social cost from alcohol consumption. Unfortunately for Preckwinkle, the state and city beat the county to the punch with three alcohol tax increases since 2005, which has the hospitality industry yelping, although the offsetting sales tax reduction would make it a wash.
"I have a lot of bars and restaurants in my district. This is something they feel," said Commissioner John Fritchey, who is trying to stop the alcohol tax increase.
Some opponents argue the proposed county increase would make total taxes on hard liquor in Chicago the highest in the nation.
Turns out that's not true. We're already highest in the nation for hard liquor. Nobody seemed to notice.
 
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Wine is no Better Than Beer in Benefits 

Thursday, November 17, 2011 9:41:55 AM
Wine is no Better Than Beer in Benefits
Source: International Business Times
By Lord Jorrel Polintan
November 16, 2011 1:30 PM EST
Research has proven that one to two glasses of wine a day is healthy for the body. However, what about the most common of spirits - the beer? Beer has often been painted to be bad for the health, but recent study suggests otherwise.
According to the study done by the Research Laboratories at the Fondazione di Ricerca e Cura "Giovannia Paolo II," in Campobasso, Italy, drinking beer moderately has the same positive effects that wine has to the cardiovascular health.
Drinking wine moderately - two glasses for men and one glass for women - can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 31% less when compared to those who do not drink. Findings of the study show, for the first time, that drinking slightly more than an English pint a day of beer containing 5% of alcohol has the same protective benefit as wine.
Studying wine and beer separately, Simona Costanzo, first author of the paper, said that they have observed a reduction in cardiovascular risk with low to moderate drinking. However, with increased consumption, the protective advantage disappears up until the risk gets higher.
With these findings of beer being good for fending off the risk of cardiovascular disease, Augusto Di Castelnuovo, the head of the Statistic Unit of Research Laboratories and a pioneer in alcohol epidemiological studies, emphasized moderate and regular drinking, and that there is no place for binge drinking or any other form of heavy consumption.
Di Caselnuovo also cautioned that their data cannot be extrapolated to everybody. Citing women in their fertile age, alcohol can actually slightly raise their risk for some type of cancer, which can counterbalance the positive effect on cardiovascular disease.
The researchers admitted though, that the similarity between wine and beer and their positive effects on cardiovascular health is still unknown. What the researchers are inferring are, since wine and beer are different in composition, all except for alcohol, alcohol could be the key player.
Beer has been the subject of many studies before and since then, many benefits have been found just by drinking the humble spirit moderately. According to HealthMad.com, drinking beer moderately has positive benefits such as:
1. Raising the level of anti-oxidants in the blood stream
2. Source of vitamin B6 which is needed to make hemoglobin, the red coloring in blood
3. Aids in sleep and promotes relaxation
4. Can help reduce blood pressure and levels of insulin in the blood
5. Can reduce the incidence of kidney stones
6. Contains flavanoids which are natural oxidants that help the body protect against diseases
 
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Preckwinkle's tax increase package passes first hurdle 

Thursday, November 17, 2011 9:39:44 AM
Illinois: Preckwinkle's tax increase package passes first hurdle
Source: Sun-Times
BY LISA DONOVAN
November 14, 2011 3:28PM
A majority of Cook County Commissioners signed off on a controversial proposal to boost the alcohol tax. Here's how they voted:
Yes: Jerry "Iceman" Butler (D), Jesus "Chuy" Garcia (D), John Daley (D), Elizabeth Doody Gorman (R), Gregg Goslin (R), Joan Patricia Murphy (D), Edwin Reyes (D), Tim Schneider (R), Peter N. Silvestri (R), Deborah Sims (D), Robert Steele (D), Jeff Tobolski (D)
No: William Beavers (D), Earlean Collins (D), John Fritchey (D), Bridget Gainer (D), Larry Suffredin (D).
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's plan to expand the sin, parking and other taxes and fees in 2012 won first-round approval Monday from a majority of county commissioners who are days away from inking a final spending package.
The most high-profile hike was in the wholesale alcohol tax, which a bi-partisan group of commissioners approved in a 12-5 vote during a Finance Committee meeting, during which commissioners examined, one-by-one, each of Preckwinkle's tax and fee hikes and expansions.
Without the tax hike - which would generate $10.9 million - 250 more jobs could be lost, Commissioner John Daley, the powerful head of the Finance Committee, told the Sun-Times before the meeting.
"This is saving jobs," Daley told the Sun-Times, saying the give-and-take of negotiations means such things as a the Sheriff's graffiti removal unit will be spared and work is afoot to save nearly a dozen staff slated for layoff in the Cook County State's Attorney's victim-witness program.
Already, the Preckwinkle administration has projected 1,000 jobs will be lost unless the unions go along with a plan to take eight unpaid days off next year, including six unpaid holidays. Those negotiations are ongoing.
While the alcohol tax increase is a small part of the $2.9 billion budget, Preckwinkle clearly saw the vote as a personal victory - emerging from behind closed doors to shake hands with commissioners on the board room floor, during and after the vote.
Commissioner Jeff Tobolski, a west suburban Democrat who backed the alcohol tax hike, said that from scanning the fellow Bears fans lined up at Soldier field for the $8 to $9 beers, he didn't think the hike would hurt sales.
"That always shocks me," Tobolski said of people paying that much for a drink. "I'm guilty of the same thing. I probably had four pops down there," he said, drawing laughs, but pointing out he didn't drive.
"If people want to continue to imbibe, they're obviously going to pay a little more," he said. "I'm sure it's not going to be dry at Soldier Field next Sunday when I go down there."
Commissioner Larry Suffredin, a Democrat who represents the city's Far North Side and adjoining suburbs, said the increase will hurt the local economy.
"The only place where there are starter jobs in the economy of Cook County at this point is in the hospitality industry," said Suffredin. "Increasing taxes like alcohol affects the hospitality industry, it affects the hotels, it affects the restaurants."
Commissioner Bridget Gainer's district includes a large swath of the city's North lakefront and Northwest Side where bars and restaurants dot the Lincoln Park, Lake View, Uptown, Andersonville Peterson Park neighborhoods, and she's concerned that jobs could be lost under the current proposed alcohol tax hike.
"Bars and restaurants are the heart and soul of that district," said Gainer, who voted against the tax hike, saying more work on the measure needs to be done. "These places are usually what make our neighborhoods worth living in, and they're often the first ones to step up when the community needs something whether it's a school or a baseball team or any of those things."
Commissioner William Beavers, whose district includes the lakefront on the city's Far South Side as well as the suburbs, called it the "poor man's tax" saying a beer provides some "relief" to the unemployed and now the tax will go up.
With one-third of the county's budget going to the health and hospital system serving the poor and uninsured, Commissioner Jerry "Iceman" Butler dismissed Beavers' argument.
"My colleague spoke about the poor man's tax. It's used to pay for the poor man's hospital. We need the tax."
A flurry of lobbyists for the alcohol industry worked the room, but couldn't beat back the momentum.
Richard Boykin, a lobbyist with distributor Crown Imports, said he was surprised to see the four Republicans on the board voting for the measure.
"The Republican Party is, by its very definition, anti-tax," Boykin said.
Out of 15 proposed fee and tax hikes or expansions - generating millions in 2012 - all but two sailed through.
An expanded tobacco tax, to include snuff and loose tobacco, got the thumbs up. And while commissioners backed a measure to charge $4.75 daily to park at the six area courthouses, they amended the proposal to exempt jurors, law enforcement, victims called to a hearing or trial as well as those participating in early voting there.
That adds up to just over $40 million in new revenues next year.
"The budget proposal we put forward is comprehensive and forward-thinking," Preckwinkle said in a prepared statement. "It included key structural changes and modest revenue increases that will allow us to make significant investments in public health, public safety and suburban infrastructure ... and improve services for all residents."
 
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Binny’s Maps Plans To Expand In Downstate Illinois And Wisconsin 

Monday, November 14, 2011 11:13:17 AM
Binny’s Maps Plans To Expand In Downstate Illinois And Wisconsin
With its 27th store opening late last week, Chicago-based Binny’s Beverage Depot is laying plans for the next stage of its expansion. In February, the retailer will make its first move outside the metro Chicago market when it opens a new unit in the downstate Illinois city of Champaign.
Binny’s CEO Michael Binstein says he’s seeking sites in other downstate Illinois markets and is preparing a push into neighboring Wisconsin. “We’re looking at moving into both Madison and Milwaukee,” Binstein told Shanken News Daily. “There are some exceptional opportunities in Wisconsin.” Binstein also disclosed clear ambitions to expand regionally and then nationally. “Once we set up the internal infrastructure to expand to Wisconsin, we can use that as a springboard to go national,” he said.
Binny’s latest expansion plans are a signal that it has come close to saturating metro Chicago, a market with a population of more than 9 million. A 28th Chicago area store, in the western suburb of LaGrange, is set to open in the coming months. After that, most expansion is likely to occur beyond Chicago.
Champaign, where the new Binny’s unit will open in a former Border’s bookstore, is roughly 150 miles south of Chicago and is dominated by the University of Illinois campus. After the Champaign store opening, Binny’s is slated to move into the downstate Illinois twin cities of Bloomington/Normal. Real estate sources say the company is near a deal on a store lease in that market. Beyond that, Binstein said he’s considering branches in Peoria and Rockford, as well as several other Illinois cities. “Our prototype stores now run between 25,000 and 30,000 square feet, which we think is the scale necessary to display the assortments we offer,” said Binstein. “We won’t consider a town that isn’t big enough to support a store of that size. I don’t have much interest in rolling out any 4,000-square-foot stores for smaller markets.”
Rivals don’t doubt Binstein’s resolve. David Luebke, president and general manager of the seven-store Otto’s Beverage Centers chain in Milwaukee (once owned by Market Watch Leader David Kujus), says greater Milwaukee has become hotly competitive as the Woodman’s Food Market chain has erected two big local stores and Costco is expanding its reach. Otto’s biggest store is 16,000 square feet and the company is a big name in the market. “Binny’s doesn’t seem to be afraid of anybody,” Luebke said. “If they come in here with 30,000-square-foot stores, then the rest of us will have to really watch our pricing and margins a lot more closely. The world here could change dramatically.”
In Rockford, an Illinois city more than 80 miles northwest of Chicago near the Wisconsin border, local retailer Tony Artale said that “Binny’s no doubt would do well here. Many people here have actually been waiting for them to arrive.” Artale, the owner of the three-year-old boutique Artale Wine Co., which covers just 2,000 square feet, notes that Woodman’s dominates the beverage alcohol business in Rockford and that local consumers would welcome more competition. “Woodman’s can be very aggressive in pricing,” he said. “It will be interesting to see Binny’s and Woodman’s face off here.”
At Binny’s, merchandising has been refined in the past year in a couple of important ways. Cheese and other perishable foods, once a company mainstay, have been banished from all but the four biggest stores. “Our craft beer business is growing fast, and when we were forced with a choice between craft beer and cheese, we decided on beer,” said Binstein.
Meanwhile, even as smoking laws have tightened in Illinois, Binny’s is building bigger walk-in humidors. The company has no private-label programs in wine or spirits, but it has hired two full-time cigar specialists to source private-label Binny’s cigars priced as high as $6.50 apiece and imported from countries including Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Many independent tobacco shops around Chicago complain that they can’t compete against Binny’s low prices. Binstein reports that cigar sales have risen at a double-digit annual pace the past few years and that they’re on pace to surpass $8 million this year, while the company’s overall revenues will rise nearly 5% to around $270 million. “Same-store sales are up by 3%-6% in most of our stores this year,” he said. “We’re barreling ahead and should pass the $300 million mark in sales before long—perhaps next year.”
An expansion pace of three to five new stores a year is the goal in the near future, but Binstein admits that he’s taking nothing for granted beyond metro Chicago. “When we open a new store in a Chicago suburb like Arlington Heights last week, we have the advantage of everybody recognizing our name,” Binstein said. “In Champaign, we’ll be in a town where hardly anybody knows us. People may not care about what we’ve accomplished in Chicago.”
Binny’s will also go up against a strong local operator in Champaign’s Piccadilly Beverage Shops. Owned by Market Watch Leader Jack B. Troxell, Piccadilly has six stores and an ardent local following. But Piccadilly’s stores are less than half the size of a Binny’s. “Shoppers want selection today, and therefore the size of your stores matters a lot,” Binstein said.
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Alcohol Tax Hike Would Harm Cook County Businesses & Jobs 

Thursday, November 10, 2011 4:35:22 PM
Alcohol Tax Hike Would Harm Cook County Businesses & Jobs
Fourth Increase Since 2005 Would Threaten Hospitality Industry Jobs
Source: ABL
November 8, 2011
The Illinois Licensed Beverage Association (ILBA), representing more than 2,500 Illinois bar owners and liquor retailers, and American Beverage Licensees (ABL), the country's largest trade association for independent bar, tavern and package liquor store owners, today expressed their strong opposition to alcohol tax increases proposed by Cook County (IL) Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
Under the proposed 2012 budget for Cook County, beer taxes would rise by 50 percent and spirits taxes by 25 percent. This would be the fourth tax increase on alcohol on Chicago-area residents since 2005, and add to what is already one of the nation's highest tax burdens on alcohol beverages.
"Continually treating beverage retailers and their customers as a piggy bank for county government is terrible public policy and threatens the long-term stability of the hospitality industry and the jobs it provides," said ABL executive director John Bodnovich. "If the goal is to stick yet another dagger in the local beverage business, this tax increase certainly would achieve that."
The proposed tax increase on alcohol would also have an unintended consequence of creating an even more unlevel playing field for Cook County beverage licensees. Higher taxes and subsequently higher consumer prices will incentivize package liquor store customers and bar and tavern patrons to conduct their business in the surrounding "collar counties" of DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will.
Illinois' largest trade association for on-premise beverage alcohol licensees, the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association, also objected to the ill-conceived notion that Cook County finances should be settled on the backs of its bars, taverns and licensed beverage stores.
"This is an attack on small business jobs - bartenders, servers, liquor store salespeople," said Clausner. "Chicago-area residents, who frequent bars, taverns and restaurants, as well as those who shop in liquor stores, shouldn't be forced to pay higher taxes for simply supporting local businesses."
Beverage alcohol taxes by any name or for any purpose are unmistakably taxes on the hospitality industry. With independent bars and taverns already under a significant strain from an uncertain economy, a tax increase could hardly come at a worse time.
"Licensed beverage retailers in Cook County and their customers are already hit with some of the highest taxes on alcohol in the entire country," said ILBA executive director Dan Clausner. "The last thing they need as the state and it residents began to recover from the recession is increased taxes."
 
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Pop tax proposal on sugary drinks bubbles up again in IL 

Thursday, November 03, 2011 1:51:09 PM
November 2, 2011
 
By Andrew Thomason | Illinois Statehouse News
 
SPRINGFIELD — If every man, woman and child in Illinois were to drink 18 ounces of sugary beverages each day, state coffers could get an additional $1.4 billion.
A new study by the Cook County Department of Public Health said Illinoisans are set to drink 6.6 billion, 12-ounce cans of soda, sports drinks and other sugary beverages in 2011.
 
That could mean big bucks for the state if lawmakers were to enact a 2-cents per ounce tax. The tax would be levied on regular soda, diet soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks. A standard 12-ounce can of soda would cost 24 cents more under the proposed tax. 
 
The study also suggested that the state and private employers would save at least $200 million in health-care costs by imposing the tax.
 
Elissa Bassler, director of the Illinois Public Health Institute, or IPHI,  said any revenue generated by the tax should be put into obesity prevention and reduction programs, instead of being absorbed in the state's "budgetary black hole."
 
The IPHA, which explores health issues in Illinois, worked closely with the Cook County Health Department in developing the report, Bassler said.
 
"I think that it helps to demonstrate what the possibilities are for what a sugary beverage tax might accomplish," she said.
 
The suggested 2-cents per ounce tax is on top of a 6.25 percenttax — or 6.25-cents on every $1 charged — on sugary drinks imposed by legislators two years ago to help fund the state’s $31 billion capital program.
 
State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, said lawmakers are unlikely to have a taste for tax hikes, especially considering the state increased individual income taxes by 67 percent last year.
 
“I just don’t see, especially in this (political) climate, there being a lot of support for that,” Syverson said.
 
Syverson serves on the state Senate Public Health Committee, the same committee where a similar soda-tax plan stalled during the Legislature’s spring session.  
 
The report, released Monday, focuses on the health side of the argument, instead of the tax side.
 
Consumption of sugary beverages now makes up almost 10 percent of the calories the average person consumes during the day, according to the study. Sugary beverages made up just 4 percent of a person’s caloric intake in 1978.
 
The jump in sugary drinks has led to one in four Illinoisans becoming obese, weighing at least 20 percent more than their ideal weight.
 
The higher the cost of a 12-ounce can of soda, the less likely someone is to drink the 120 calories of sugar, the study says.
 
Tim Bramlet, director of the Illinois Beverage Association, which lobbies on behalf of the beverage industry, said a tax on soda would have unintended financial consequences on those who can least afford it.
 
“This would be a tax on Illinois consumers, especially middle-income and lower-income folks,” Bramlet said.
 
The study agrees that low-income consumers would be hit the hardest, only because middle- to low-income consumers drink the most sugary beverages.
 
Additionally, according to the study, it is that exact demographic — middle- to low-income consumers — who are enrolled in Medicaid that cost the state the most in terms of health care and have a higher chance of suffering from health issues related to obesity.
 
Bramlet said linking sugary drinks to obesity is a bit of a fallacy.  
 
“We don’t view these products as unhealthy … When consumed responsibly, these products are harmless. People just have to be smart about how to use them,” he said.
 
Bramlet added that the non-alcoholic beverage industry directly employs about 7,000 people in the state. If a tax on beverages was enacted, many of those employees could lose their jobs, he said.
 
If the government wants to help people slim down, it should start by setting a good example, not by increasing taxes, Syverson said.
 
He suggested excluding soda and other sugary drinks from the list of what people can purchase with food stamps from the state. It’s an idea state Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Chicago, tried to get through the General Assembly this spring. The move failed.
 
“If we were roaring right now and the economy were humming along … you could look at a different tax structure for sugary soft drinks. But the way that it is right now, where there’s a backlash to any taxing, with good reason, that’s not the right conversation to be having,” Zalewski said.
 
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DISTILLED SPIRITS COUNCIL URGES COOK COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS TO REJECT ALCOHOL TAX HIKE IN BUDGET PROPOSAL 

Thursday, November 03, 2011 1:45:53 PM
DISTILLED SPIRITS COUNCIL URGES COOK COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS TO REJECT ALCOHOL TAX HIKE IN BUDGET PROPOSAL
Source: DISCUS
Nov 1st
The Distilled Spirits Council today sent a letter to the Cook County Board of Commissioners urging them to protect Chicago's struggling hospitality industry by rejecting a job-killing alcohol tax increase in Board President Toni Preckwinkle's proposed budget.
"During these troubling times, policymakers need to protect hospitality workers and consumers, not punish them with higher taxes," wrote Council Vice President Dale Szyndrowski, noting that the hard-hit Chicago hospitality industry is still down 13,000 jobs since the recession. "The proposed tax increase will make spirits taxes in Chicago 85 percent higher than in New York City, and likely drive more business and tourists into surrounding counties and neighboring Indiana."
Szyndrowski also pointed out that a restaurant patron already pays a staggering eight different direct taxes each time he or she purchases a drink: Federal Excise Tax ($13.50/proof gallon), State Excise Tax ($8.55/gallon), County Excise Tax ($2.00/gallon), City Excise Tax ($2.68/gallon), State Sales Tax (6.25%), County Sales Tax (1.25%), City Sales Tax (1.25%) and Transport Tax (1.00%). In total, he said, nearly 60% of the price of a bottle of spirits at the local liquor store already goes to taxes.
"By any measure, Cook County consumers are already paying more than their fair share in alcohol taxes," Szyndrowski said. He further noted that Cook County's proposed alcohol tax would mark the fourth alcohol tax hike on Chicagoans since 2005, including a state excise tax increase in 2009 that nearly doubled taxes on distilled spirits.
 
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ABL Celebrates Second Annual Package Liquor Store Month This November 

Thursday, November 03, 2011 1:44:45 PM
ABL Celebrates Second Annual Package Liquor Store Month This November
Source: ABL
Nov 1st
American Beverage Licensees (ABL) is celebrating off-premise beverage retailers during Package Liquor Store Month this November. America's independent package liquor stores continue to have a positive impact on their communities by creating jobs, offering unparalleled product choices to millions of customers and leading the way when it comes to selling beverage alcohol responsibly.
Some of the last remaining independent businesses on Main Street, package liquor stores, which in most cases also sell beer and wine, train their employees to conduct safe and responsible face-to-face sales to adult consumers, thus leading by example when it comes to preventing underage access to alcohol.
"We believe it is important to highlight the sense of responsibility that independent package liquor store owners hold in serving their communities," said ABL President Chuck Ferrar, who owns Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits in Annapolis, Maryland.
"Beverage retailers work hard to maintain a safe environment for their families, friends and neighbors," Ferrar continued. "They also provide thousands of full-time and part-time jobs and are important contributors to local economies everywhere."
Package Stores Still Face Challenges
Despite the value package liquor stores deliver to their communities and their customers, threats to these small businesses abound. In Washington State, a move to dismantle the three-tier system and create an unlevel playing field for small businesses has led ABL to join the fight to defeat ballot initiative 1183.
Additionally, city, county and state governments all too often target the hospitality industry with alcohol tax increases as a quick fix for budget shortfalls. Beverage licensees already contribute more than their fair share through a variety of federal excise taxes, state excise taxes, county excise taxes, city excise taxes, state and city sales taxes, and other assessments and fees.
"Beverage retailers know first-hand how damaging alcohol tax increases can be to their businesses and employees," said ABL executive director John Bodnovich. "We will continue to work with elected officials and the public to make sure that beverage retailers are not faced with another hurdle for sustaining successful businesses and jobs."
Increasingly, beverage retailers are also forced to address misguided attacks on their businesses based on junk science. Despite the fact that package liquor stores are "licensed" businesses, under the scrutiny of state and local government, law enforcement and regulators, they must constantly defend themselves from those who seek to shutter their stores and put them out of business.
Providing Education & Choice
Thanks in large part to the three-tier system, American consumers already have access to the greatest variety of wine, beer and spirits of any country in the world. Now, with the constant flow of information via the Internet and social media, customers are progressively seeking out more information about these products. The explosion of locally-brewed beers, niche wines and craft-distilled spirits has meant that each bottle, and the story behind it, can captivate customers.
As consumers embrace craft products, organic alternatives and local producers, independent package store owners provide an environment where a knowledgeable staff can educate customers on the thousands of options they have when it comes to picking the beverage that's right for them. It's this superior choice and service that makes for better-informed and more responsible consumers of beverage alcohol.
In this season of celebration, ABL and its nearly 20,000 members encourage everyone to support locally-owned business by stopping in their neighborhood package liquor store for a bottle of their favorite wine, beer or distilled spirits. November is Package Liquor Store Month...Let's Celebrate!
 
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Alcohol Tax Threatens Cook County Hospitality Industry 

Thursday, October 27, 2011 1:25:01 PM
Alcohol Tax Threatens Cook County Hospitality Industry
Spirits Consumers Face 4th Tax Hike Since 2005
Source: DISCUS
Oct 26th
The Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS), representing thousands of spirits brands sold in Illinois, today blasted Cook County's proposal to raise spirits taxes calling the 25% hike a major job-killing burden on Chicago's hospitality industry.
"Forcing bartenders and busboys into the unemployment line is no way to shore up the county budget," said DISCUS Vice President Dale Szyndrowski, noting that hospitality businesses in the Chicago area are still down 13,000 jobs since before the recession. "Raising taxes should not be the answer to every problem in Cook County. It's time to say enough is enough."
Szyndrowski said this increase would mark the fourth alcohol tax hike on Chicagoans since 2005, including two city tax increases (2005, 2008) and one state excise tax increase (2009) which nearly doubled taxes on spirits.
Under Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's proposal, the current county excise tax on spirits would increase 25% from $2.00 per gallon to $2.50 - further increasing an already staggering tax burden on Chicago-area consumers.
Szyndrowski pointed to an economic analysis showing that a Chicago restaurant patron already pays eight different direct taxes with each purchase, including: Federal Excise Tax ($13.50/proof gallon), State Excise Tax ($8.55/gallon), County Excise Tax ($2.00/gallon)*, City Excise Tax ($2.68/gallon), State Sales Tax (6.25%), County Sales Tax (1.25%), Transport Tax (1.00%) and City Sales Tax (1.25%). He also noted that 58% of the purchase price of a typical bottle of spirits in Illinois already goes to taxes.
"Hamstringing the hospitality industry with higher alcohol taxes will cost jobs and hurt tourism throughout the state," Szyndrowski said, noting that another tax increase will likely drive tourists and business travelers into nearby Wisconsin and Indiana.
Under the Board's proposal, the county excise tax would increase from $2.00/gallon to $2.50/gallon - a 25% increase - and make spirits taxes in Chicago 85% higher than spirits taxes in New York City.
 
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Illinois:  

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 3:31:10 PM
Illinois: Preckwinkle wants to raise Cook County taxes on tobacco, beer, cars (Excerpt)
New money and spending cuts are aimed at closing a $315 million shortfall in next year's budget
Source: Chicago Tribune
By Erika Slife, Tribune reporter
October 24, 2011
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle will ask commissioners to raise taxes on alcohol, tobacco products and cars and to lay off more than 1,000 workers under a budget blueprint she rolled out Monday.
Those living in unincorporated areas could pay more for police services, and people parking in county garages would have to pay for the privilege.
The combination of new money and spending cuts are aimed at closing a $315 million shortfall in next year's budget. Preckwinkle will formally present her budget to the County Board on Tuesday in the hopes of meeting a Nov. 30 deadline and avoiding a protracted struggle that in past years has lasted until late February.
Among the tax and fee hikes, Preckwinkle hopes to collect $12 million a year by taxing loose tobacco, rolling papers, snuff and other cigarette products that officials said have long escaped county taxes.
Taxes on wholesale alcohol sales would rise. Beer would go from 6 cents to 9 cents a gallon, and liquor with more than 20 percent alcohol by volume would increase from $2 to $2.50 a gallon. The new taxes, which typically get passed on to drinkers, could raise nearly $30 million. The county alcohol tax hasn't been raised since 1989, officials said.
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