Bottom's Up! Maryland Alcohol Sales Tax Increases

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images

    Bottom's up, Maryland! Prices on beer, wine and liquor in the state are about to increase.

    Gov. Martin O'Malley on Thursday signed legislation that will raise Maryland's sales tax on alcohol by 50 percent in July.

    The sales tax on alcohol will rise from 6 percent to 9 percent.

    The tax is estimated to raise about $85 million a year.

    About $15 million will go toward easing a waiting list for the developmentally disabled. Next year only, about $47 million will be used to help pay for school construction costs.

    While those who drink regularly may not be too happy with the increase, Vincent DeMarco, president of the Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative, believes there will be a positive outcome for the public at large.

    "According to Professors David Jernigan and Hugh Waters of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, this new increase in the state sales tax on alcoholic beverages from 6 percent to 9 percent will lead to a nearly 2 percent decrease in alcohol consumption and prevent 14 deaths, 125 cases of aggravated assault, 26 incidents of severe violence against children, and close to 6,000 cases of alcohol abuse or dependence every year," DeMarco wrote in an editorial earlier this month that appeared in the Baltimore Sun.

    The Sun, itself, took things a step further in its own editorial:

    "But looking at things from a consumer's perspective, the tax increase, paradoxically, may be the best thing to happen in years. It will mean that alcohol is slightly more expensive, but it also signifies the most significant crack yet in the all-powerful Annapolis liquor lobby. Taken in conjunction with the passage of a bill to allow direct shipment of wine to consumers, this year could mark a turning point that leads to greater consumer choice, more competition and, perhaps, even lower prices."

    Time will tell if all of those statistics and hopes pan out.