Higher taxes on wine and liquor take effect Aug. 1

//July 31, 2009//

Higher taxes on wine and liquor take effect Aug. 1

//July 31, 2009//

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State looks to reap $22 million through the tax increase.A 25 percent increase on excise tax for wine and spirits goes into effect Saturday, in a move the state believes will bring in $22 million in additional tax revenue for fiscal 2010. The increases may seem miniscule — about 22 cents more per 750-milliliter bottle of liquor and 3.5 cents more for wine bottles of the same size — but few are toasting the higher levy.

“No vintner, whatever size, welcomes a tax increase,” said Charlie Tomasello, a third-generation wine grower at Tomasello Winery, in Hammonton. “I’m sure the consumer doesn’t welcome a tax increase.” He said wine and spirits tend to be targets of sin taxes, but he believes a reduction could better serve to fill state coffers. “Probably the best thing to do is lower [taxes], and then you’ll sell more and collect more taxes,” he said. “That’s an argument that’s not very popular in this economy.”

Tomasello estimated the excise tax increase would raise prices about $1 per wine case. “In the grand scheme of things, it’s probably insignificant. The toll on the Parkway is more of an issue.”

The tax increase was fought by retailers and members of the hospitality industry who expect to see their sales decline as a result.

N.J. wine and spirits purveyors bracing for looming tax increase

Tomasello said wine continues to flow in spite of the economy, though sales of higher-priced vintages may have slowed. “In difficult economic times, wines under $15 do pretty well,” he said; many of Tomasello wines fall in that price range. However, he said, the quantity of wine typically sold at each purchase may be less.

“Instead of buying a whole case, you might buy four or five bottles, and then come back again,” Tomasello said.

E-mail Joao-Pierre Ruth at [email protected]