Alcohol Sales Tax Repeal: A Decision Worth Toasting?

By Alicia Buchl Perez | Boston Magazine |

Our long civic nightmare is over: Starting this month, booze is once again sales-tax free. The state’s 6.25 percent levy on alcohol lasted barely more than a year — it was voted out in November — but to hear package-store owners tell it, they suffered mightily. The tax “is hurting small businesses like mine,” wrote one. “New Hampshire is directly targeting Massachusetts consumers for alcohol sales, and it’s working for them.” But sales up north rose by only $12 million in 2010, while our state will now be out the roughly $100 million the tax brought in last year (more than half of which funded addiction treatment). At least we can raise a glass of bubbly knowing we’ve saved a couple of bucks on that $40 bottle.

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$3,754,121 Anti-tax political action committee donations
Its three largest donors:
$841,667 Martignetti Companies, one of Massachusetts’ biggest alcohol distributors.
$539,500 Massachusetts Package Stores Association, the leading lobbying group for the state’s liquor sellers.
$458,445 Horizon Beverage Corporation, one of Massachusetts’ biggest alcohol distributors.  

$197,072 Pro-tax political action committee donations
Its three largest donors:
$30,000 Association for Behavioral Healthcare, the state’s leading lobby for better substance abuse treatment.
$11,000 Spectrum Health Systems, a company that treats 20,000 addicts and mentally ill people nationwide each year.
$9,000 Recovery Homes Collaborative, a group of Massachusetts rehab centers.

All figures are most recent available. Source: Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance