A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Make the Call - Support Alcohol Taxes For Public Health

Make the Call - Support Alcohol Taxes For Public Health

June 12, 2009

Please call your representative about the alcohol tax in the conference budget. The Senate included a provision closing the alcohol exclusion loophole in the sales tax. The funds collected would be dedicated to a number of public health programs. Without these resources, public health funding falls further behind again.

Rep. Liz Malia and Rep. Marty Walsh have drafted a letter in support of the alcohol tax to the Speaker and Ways and Means Chair Murphy – and we want other Representatives to sign on.

Here's the text:

We the undersigned members of the House fully support, and urge that you adopt, the Senate’s repeal of the sales tax exemption on alcohol sold in stores as a means to ensure that state revenues continue to remain available to fund substance abuse services and other social services, including adult day services, suicide prevention and community health centers.

Massachusetts ranks second in the nation for its high rate of alcohol consumption, and we continue to have high rates of underage binge drinking among our high school students. Using taxes to raise prices on alcohol is the most effective deterrent to drinking that researchers have discovered. Research also shows that underage binge drinking decreases in proportion to the increase in taxes on beer.

Massachusetts is one of only six states that does not have a sales tax on alcohol sold in stores. If the sales tax is raised to 6.25%, as approved by the House and Senate, the removal of the exemption of the sales tax on alcohol will generate up to $115 million in revenue per year.

Thank you for your consideration.

Your representatives need to hear that you want them to stand up and be a leader for this important public health revenue source, which is estimated to raise up to $115 million in revenue per year.

Please call your representative now and urge them to sign onto this letter to support funds for public health and addiction treatment. Ask your representative to call either Rep. Malia or Rep. Walsh’s office to sign on.

If you don’t know who your state representative is, go to www.wheredoivotema.com.

Call 617-722-2000 and ask for your representative by name – ask to speak to his or her legislative budget aide – and tell them you are a constituent and you are asking them to sign onto the Rep. Malia and Rep. Walsh letter in support of including alcohol in the sales tax. Do it now.
-Mehreen Butt