MAY 2002
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10 Cents Extra: New Tax On Beer And Wine?

From Nowy Dziennik
April 9, 2002

By Bozena Chojnacka

The City Council met on Monday to debate ways to fill the $4.8 billion budget gap that the City of New York is faced with. One of the proposals was a 10 percent increase in tax on beer and wine, which would bring extra revenue of $30 million a year.

A few weeks ago, Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a tax increase on cigarettes. If the proposal gets implemented, a pack of cigarettes may cost up to $7.

Although the city does impose taxes on alcohol — 25 cents on a license to sell alcohol, 12 cents per gallon of beer and 26.4 cents per liter of alcoholic beverages distributed by distributors - it has never imposed taxes on beer and wine that are directly sold to customers.

"It’s not a surprise that after a tax on cigarettes comes an increase in tax on wine and beer," said Beata Kalita, the owner of Delicatessen at 984 Manhattan Ave. in Greenpoint. "Many people buy cigarettes and store them, or they buy them on the Internet. Unfortunately, they don’t sell beer on the web. I don’t think the tax increase will discourage people from drinking, just like the tax on cigarettes won’t discourage people from smoking. In my store we only sell beer or, as my customers call it, the "thinner." If they want something stronger, they have to go to the liquor store across the street."

Irena Mazurczak, who works at Polam meat market in Greenpoint neither drinks beer nor smokes cigarettes, but she knows those who will be affected by the new tax: the drunkards who come to her store on Sunday morning, begging her to sell them a bottle of beer. "Perhaps they will drink less," she said.

For Wieslaw Kubicki, just like for Mazurczak, the tax raise won’t make any difference. He likes Heineken, but goes to New Jersey three times a week, so if he wants he can shop there.

Janek from Greenpoint believes that the beer and wine tax will make an impact only on alcoholics. "As always, the weakest ones will suffer the most," he said.

Besides the tax on "sins", the City Council is considering other ways of filling the budget gap. Some of the presented proposals are: the property tax, selling 500 additional taxi license plates, which cost $200,000 each, and charging for the Emergency Medical Services.

Translated from Polish by Joanna Sufin.

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