Alcohol Industry Speaks Against Possible D.C. Tax Increase

The cost of beer, wine and alcoholic drinks could increase in the District if the city approves a plan to raise wholesale taxes on distilled spirits, but the liquor industry turned out in force Tuesday to try to block it.

The increase would be about six cents per drink, and firms big and small are worried about its impact.

The owners of small brewery DC Brau in northeast Washington purposely picked D.C., where it does 95 percent of its growing business. Co-owner Brandon Skall joined a crowd of alcohol retailers and wholesalers Tuesday to oppose the tax increase, which would be much higher than in the suburbs.

“We are relatively a pretty small operation,” Skall said. “This is a product that is made right here locally in Washington, D.C., and this tax directly puts that in harm’s way.”

Council member Jim Graham is considering proposing the higher tax to help fund social service programs.

“The excise tax in the District has not been increased since 1990,” Graham said.

Broad-based industry representatives say D.C. sales would be hurt, especially those of the growing craft brewers.

The tax increase could become part of the 2013 budget that gets voted on in the next few weeks.

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