ATR President Grover Norquist sent a letter to legislators in Pennsylvania urging them to reject attempts to impose higher municipal taxes in economically distressed areas of the Keystone State. In particular, the proposal put forward would raise taxes on beer, wine and spirits, already one of the most over-taxed entities in existence. The text of the letter reads as follows: 

      Dear Members of the Pennsylvania Legislature,

I write today in strong opposition to the proposals put forward by the Act 47 task force to impose higher municipal taxes in economically distressed parts of Pennsylvania. The first problem with these proposals, which may be introduced as legislation for you to vote on this Fall, is that there is nothing that higher taxes will do to improve economically depressed communities in Pennsylvania. In fact, higher taxes will only make matters worse for these struggling towns.

The proposed 10% local tax hike on beverages containing alcohol is particularly problematic and misguided. With the federal Excise Tax ($13.50/proof gallon), the Johnstown Flood Tax (18%), Bottle Handling Fee, State Sales Tax (6%), and Local Sales Tax (up to 2%), Pennsylvanians already pay 5 separate taxes and fees every time they pick up a six pack of beer, a bottle of wine, or their favorite bourbon. Adult beverages are already one of the most heavily-taxed products on the market, with taxes and fees comprising over half of the retail cost of beer, wine, and spirits.

In fact, government makes more money off alcohol sales than the businesses that produce the product. For every dollar that the industry earns in profit, state and local governments take two dollars, on average. Not only is such discriminatory taxation unsound tax policy, it’s a terrible way to fill government coffers.

Businesses don’t pay taxes, people do, and a local alcohol tax hike would be borne by consumers in the form of higher prices. Making it more expensive to tailgate for the next Steelers or Eagles game is bad enough, but a local alcohol tax hike would also be a job killer. Economic analysis of the proposed 10% drink tax finds that it would result in the destruction of 275 jobs in the Commonwealth.

Your constituents already work 202 days out of the year, on average, well over half the year, just to pay for the cost of their state and federal governments. Furthermore, Pennsylvanians have seen 21 new or higher federal taxes signed into law in just the last five years. The last thing your constituents need is another job-killing tax increase from their elected officials in Harrisburg.

To view a PDF copy of the letter, click here.