Liquor Tax Repeal Generates Brewing Controversy - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

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Liquor Tax Repeal Generates Brewing Controversy

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by ABC Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis

mcurtis@abc6.com

The liquor industry in Rhode Island may be the big winner in this year's budget battle.

If the bill passes, the sales tax on wine a spirits will drop to zero.

The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity fought to eliminate all of Rhode Island's sales tax, but says the alcohol tax is a start.

Mike Stenhouse for the Rhode Island, Center for Freedom and Prosperity said, "Our concern again, is the larger picture. If the philosophy is, that sales relief is good for some industries, then we believe that bigger sales tax relief is good for all industries and the state."

It's essentially a pilot study for 15 months, to see if gutting the Rhode Island sales tax will boost business.

      ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis said, "The disparity in taxes along the state line has been rather stark. Massachusetts with lower gasoline tax; lower cigarette tax; lower sales tax and no tax on alcohol."

But if eliminating the Rhode Island liquor sales tax might make the state more competitive, why not do if for other industries?

Dion Oliveira operates a small video business in warren, called "Movies, Games & More," and still has to tax her customers.

Oliveira said, "I don't think that's very fair. (Why?) Why should they eliminate it for one if they aren't going to eliminate it for all?"

And Governor Chafee is not yet sold on cutting the sales tax on liquor, or anything else.

Gov. Chafee (D-RI) said, "You have to pay for lowering any kinds of tax. Either with cuts somewhere or with some kind of added revenue."

The General Assembly did form a commission to study elimination of all sales tax, next year.

The RI booze tax repeal would apply to hard liquor and wine only, not beer. In Massachusetts all three are tax free.

 

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