D.C. Council member pitches idea to increase sales tax on alcohol

fobogro alcohol, wine
Ward 1 D.C. Council member Jim Graham said the District could increase the sales tax on alcoholic drinks to narrow the fiscal year 2013 budget gap. Hatchet File Photo

A D.C. Council member floated the idea Monday of raising the sales tax on alcoholic drinks as a way to shrink the budget gap for fiscal year 2013.

Ward 1 D.C. Council member Jim Graham said at a hearing on the budget that increasing the alcohol excise tax by 6 cents per drink could produce more than $20 million in revenue, according to The Washington Post. The tax has not been raised since 1990.

A tax increase would fill the projected $171.2 million revenue gap that Mayor Vincent Gray’s budget that proposed be filled by extended hours for alcohol sales – allowing bars to sell liquor until 3 a.m. on weekdays and 4 a.m. on weekends. Graham has voiced concern over the proposal.

Graham proposed April 23 to allow stores with Class A liquor licenses, which sell soft and hard alcohol, to operate on Sundays to pour in more sales tax revenue, but reversed that proposal at Monday’s hearing.

The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration modified codes last summer to allow grocery stores and wholesalers that exclusively offer beer and wine to sell until midnight every day. All types of retailers still are barred from selling hard liquor on Sundays.

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