The Maine Legislature is considering several proposals to raise the excise tax on beer and wine. The excise tax is paid at the wholesale level of the business cycle, and is hidden in the cost that Maine consumers pay for these beverages.

Maine currently has the highest excise tax on beer and wine of any of the other New England states, and currently ranks the twelfth highest in the country on beer, and twenty-fifth highest on wine.

Again, the Legislature is asking the people who consume these beverages to pay for the Legislature’s inability to spend within their means. Excise taxes have always been considered to be regressive because they disproportionately affect lower income levels.

Increasing excise taxes will ultimately hurt Maine retailers and wholesalers of beer and wine as consumers purchase less of these items, or increase their purchases of these items in New Hampshire where there are lower taxes, no sales taxes, and no bottle bill.

Lost sales by Maine businesses mean more lost jobs for Maine. Lost sales will mean less revenue for the state of Maine, and will always bring them back to looking for more revenue and increase taxes. It’s a vicious cycle, one that obviously the Legislature doesn’t understand.

Consumers of beer and wine, who make these purchases in the state of Maine, will probably want to contact their legislator right now and tell them enough is enough. Don’t increase the tax on my beer and wine.

Dennis Barriault, Lewiston

Vice President, Central Distributors Inc.

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