Restaurants Frothy Over Md. Alcohol Tax

Customers will sip the rewards of a protest of the proposed alcohol sales tax increase in Maryland.

Two Frederick County restaurants are lowering beer prices because they don't think the tax increase, from 6 percent to 9 percent over three years, will benefit them.

"This money is going to be going to Prince George's County and Baltimore City, and we are we having to subsidize them," Gary Brooks, the operations manager at Barley and Hops, told WHAG.

Analysts estimate the tax would raise about $29 million in fiscal 2012, $58 million the following year and $85 million in the third year. A significant portion of the year one proceeds would be set aside for schools in Prince George's and Baltimore.

But Brooks's protest could cost the state some of that cash. 

At Barley and Hops, customers currently pay 21 cents in sales tax for a pint of beer. Under the proposed increase, that would rise to 32 cents per pint.

Brooks is lowering prices enough so that customers would only pay 20 cents in sales tax per pint.

He hopes that will get the attention of lawmakers, who are still debating the bill in the House of Delegates.

Another restaurant, Brewer's Alley, also is taking part. 

"They're putting this tax on the back of our customers to take care of their legislative problems," said Phil Bowers, owner of Brewer's Alley.

Maryland leaders have said it's not that cut and dried.

"These two jurisdictions come up short in terms of state aid as contrasted to the rest of the state," Senate President Thomas Miller, D-Calvert, said last week. "It's the result of formulas. It's not anybody's diabolical plan."

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