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LIQUOR: Tax isn’t the only difference

Letter by Richard B. Wisenburg, Gig Harbor on June 4, 2012 at 5:20 pm with 37 Comments »
June 4, 2012 5:20 pm

I realized that the new retail liquor system was going to continue our paying the highest liquor taxes around. I was not prepared for the retailers to climb on board the rip-off approach so quickly.

Here’s what I don’t understand: According to your article, Costco’s “shelf price” for a 1.75 liter bottle of Maker’s Mark here is about $46. When taxes are added, that price increases to around $62 – close to the old state liquor store price and all because of taxes, right? Then why is it that Costco charges about $33 for the same bottle in its California stores – and that includes the California state tax. I’d love to see an explanation on that one.

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Leave a comment Comments → 37
  1. writnstuff says:

    Just guessing, but I’d say our taxes are higher than California. Plus, as written into the initiative, there is a fee of 17% of all spirits sales that spirits retailers must pay to the Liquor Control Board. Those two things probably account for a great deal of the difference.

  2. sincere says:

    The most effective weapon the voters have in their arsenal, is in the power of their pocketbook.If the public would just refuse to buy the overpriced spirits and cause the collection of taxes to sink to an all time low,I have a feeling that the State and the Liquor dealers would find a way to lower the prices.Until then you can expect the prices to remain high and go even higher.

  3. SwordofPerseus says:

    Duh; As with Tim Eyman initiatives be careful what you VOTE for. It was very plainly spelled out in the voters pamphlet, however that was over shadowed by glossy four color brochures paid for by big retailers explaining the evils of government owned monopolies (hey everybody, WE ARE the government) and how much more convenient it would be to be able to by booze in any retail outlet(over 10,000sq. ft.)…

    $3.77/liter tax on every milliliter and times 20.5% on the retail price tag.

    http://www.ofm.wa.gov/rfp/resources/Markup_Formula_Calculator.pdf

  4. If it’s too expensive don’t buy it.

  5. CRB9000 says:

    Time for an initiative to fix liquor taxes, there is NO reason to be charged that much.

  6. what do you not understand about: because we voter for it. it sucks, but we got exactly what we asked for. go back and look at the archive though, i was trying to warn yall…

  7. Richard – if you drive to California, it will only cost you a couple hundred dollars on gas to save $30.

    If you move to California, you can pay income tax instead of paying for tax on your booze.

    See…you’ve got choices!

  8. Jellee….remember all the “cheaper booze” comments during the campaign?

    I said it before, PT Barnum said it first……

  9. scott0962 says:

    Just because people voted for it is no reason it can’t be amended, the legislature does that to initiatives all the time when it suits their purposes.

  10. alindasue says:

    scott0962 said, “Just because people voted for it is no reason it can’t be amended, the legislature does that to initiatives all the time when it suits their purposes.”

    The legislature can change a law created by initiative AFTER two years, as per the state constitution.

  11. concernedtacoma7 says:

    Another tax that hurts the poor dispaportioninately.

    Odd to see the lefties cheering for it.

  12. blakeshouse says:

    I have had and will continue to have many out of state sources for booze smokes and any other highly taxed items I choose to consume in this gulag. The socialist state of Wa will never learn that just a bit of research will save anyone tons of the wasted taxes collected here. Simple process record savings!!!!

  13. CRB9000 says:

    The base liquor price is still high because of market conditions. There are not an abundance of neighborhood liquor stores. This will even out.

    However, our oppresive tax structure needs to be fixed. There is no reason for 2 taxes on this. An initiative can, and should be used to, fix this.

  14. “Another tax that hurts the poor dispaportioninately.

    Odd to see the lefties cheering for it.”

    If you are poor, you have more important things to spend your money on than booze.

  15. “The base liquor price is still high because of market conditions. There are not an abundance of neighborhood liquor stores. This will even out.

    However, our oppresive tax structure needs to be fixed. There is no reason for 2 taxes on this. An initiative can, and should be used to, fix this.”

    I disagree. I would much rather see a high tax on booze than an income tax.

  16. CRB9000 says:

    So, pawl, I take it you want to impose what you think is right on the poor because you think they shouldn’t be drinking? How dare you?

  17. Theefrinker says:

    I read these comments, and all I can remember seeing now is “dispaportioninately”… my morning shall be much better now.

  18. Theefrinker – that shall be known as a FrankBurnsism.

    Pawl – isn’t it funny how they compare our liquor prices and taxes to states where income tax is paid? No accounting majors in this bunch.

  19. ruthann says:

    Wellllllll if you long for California taxes then move there. The people got what they voted for. Just wait for all the graduation parties this summer. Minors have already been shopping my store.

  20. averageJoseph says:

    “If you are poor, you have more important things to spend your money on than booze.” Absolutely… now if they would just figure that out.

  21. CRB9000 says:

    Pawl and AverageJoseph: So, you’d like to be in control of what people spend their money on?

    Let me guess, you guys are non-drinkers and would like to see sky high sin taxes as a means of social shaping to achieve your ends?

  22. “Time for an initiative to fix liquor taxes, there is NO reason to be charged that much.”

    So you favor an income tax then?

  23. Rongrant says:

    It seems that in this state the rule is: “If you lose getting a proposal passed on a ballot, just keep putting it on the ballot year after year until it passes.” Well, the boozers got their wish and the state isn’t selling liquor any more…so now it’s poetic justice that they have to pay steep prices.
    I’ll drink to that !

  24. BlaineCGarver says:

    A goodly chunk of the New Taxes was for enhanced enforcement….If you believe that’s where it will go to, I have some wetland for you to buy to build a new liquor store on…

  25. dankuykendall says:

    Oregon is not that far away. Go get it there. Simple! If everyone that is disappointed in the outcome takes their money to Oregon, it appears to me they will have no choice but to bring down the price. Problem becomes that how many will be put out of business before the prices go down? In addition,, the state is now out of the liquor busines and back in the tax business, what will happen when there are no liquor stores left?

  26. Theefrinker says:

    dan: the “liquor business” WAS the tax business for the state; that part hasn’t changed at all. And Blaine is right, implementing new taxes and laws under the guise of safety (i.e. “enhanced enforcement”) is something governments are all too familiar with–and good at.

  27. If anyone really WANTS TO KNOW what liquor taxes go for, all of that information is on their website.

    Now, on the other hand, you can just call the WSLCB a bunch of liars and take Costco’s word for everything. Want to know about enforcement? Just ask a licensee, especially one that got fined.

    I knew, the moment that the law change and reality hit some people between the eyes, that the next target would be blaming “the state” (as if that is some 3rd party entity).

  28. ‘get in oregon’ can we all say bootlegging.

  29. alindasue says:

    concernedtacoma7 said, “Another tax that hurts the poor dispaportioninately.”

    Anyone who can afford to regularly pay $30-60 for booze at a state run liquor store is not too poor to pay $32-$65 for the booze at your local Safeway. This is not a “hurts the poor” type tax, no matter how you portray it.

    Theefrinker said, “dan: the “liquor business” WAS the tax business for the state; that part hasn’t changed at all.”

    Exactly – which is why the initiative was written the way it was to assure that the state would not be losing revenue by its passing. That was clearly obvious to anyone who actually read the initiative before voting on it.

    To all those who advocate going to California or Oregon to buy “cheaper” booze…

    I don’t buy alcoholic drinks, but I understand the concept of penny-wise and pound-foolish. This certainly fits that description.

    I wouldn’t drive across town using $5 in gas to save 10 cents ($2 total) at the pump. I won’t go to the next town to save 20 cents per pound on steak (unless I’m buying half a cow). I certainly wouldn’t waste $50+ in gas and half a day just to save $20 on a drink.

    Maybe all this liquor has addled your reasoning abilities…?

  30. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    I don’t mind the price. I am just happy the union lost 900 slackers that were using my tax dollars to pay dues. Also look at the millions of $$$$ saved in wages, benefits and pensions for these 900 people.

    I see ZERO downside to privatizing liquor sales in WA State. Thank you Costco, the people of WA owe you bigtime. I will be a customer and stock holderr for life.

  31. taxedenough is one of those geniuses that will pay more to save money.

    “Also look at the millions of $$$$ saved in wages, benefits and pensions for these 900 people.”

    Yeah…it was less than the money made off selling liquor. You’re so blind with rage that you don’t know the meaning of the word “profit”.

  32. Hey Taxed – tell us where you work (?) so that state employees and their families can spend their money elsewhere and your wages won’t be tainted with their state money.

  33. concernedtacoma7 says:

    The state should not “profit” on retail sales. Childish argument.

  34. averageJoseph says:

    Hey, anyone who can afford to stop on their way to work and buy a coffee for 3 bucks…

    We should impose a special tax on coffee drinkers.

  35. alindasue says:

    averageJoseph said, “Hey, anyone who can afford to stop on their way to work and buy a coffee for 3 bucks…

    We should impose a special tax on coffee drinkers.”

    Some cities and states do have a restaurant tax…

  36. This is crap people. This shows how much contempt our legislators have for the people for whom they work.
    They also told you that “We’re going to have to adjust our ferry schedules and charge you more to ride” when the voters when you finally took away the exorbitant tag fees you used to have to pay.
    You can still buy a big bottle of booze in Texas for 11.95, and that too, is a no income tax state, it’s not about taxes…it’s about an abusive government, and it is a crime being perpetrated on all of us.
    We need to get our heads out of sand and start letting our voices be heard in Olympia, or you can look forward to more of the same. We are also paying almost a dollar more for gasoline here that in Texas. Part of this is because the legislators are so busy throwing barriers up in front of corporations and others that want to do business here.
    I suggest we take our business elsewhere, 4 or 5 people can carpool to Oregon and share the gas expense…you’ll be saving money.
    On the other hand, if you love the tax schedule you have to live with, wallow in your pretty little sty.

  37. This shows how much contempt our legislators have for the people for whom they work.

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