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04.2009

Massachusetts Beverage Business

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archivedAtPressTime

LET THEM HAVE LIQUOR LICENSES!

LIQUOR  LICENSES in Massachusetts have long been notoriously difficult to obtain. And when they are available their price can be on a par with a king’s ransom. But under a new proposal from Governor Patrick there could soon be more licenses available throughout the state. Currently, the number of licenses most towns can award is based on population. To get additional or seasonal licenses, towns must file a petition with the Legislature. Under the governor’s proposal, towns would have the authority to set the number of alcohol licenses they distribute. Seasonal licenses, though, would still go through the Legislature. The plan is to help communities bring in additional revenue. Cities and towns would benefit because of the license fees they charge and the additional tax revenue a new business would generate. While many are optimistic that additional licenses would benefit individual communities, others are more skeptical. There is concern that an increase in licenses will cause them to lose value. Also, with the current recession, there isn’t a tremendous demand for the once prized liquor licenses. Still, after the economy turns around, this could be a source of much-needed revenue.

Another plan the Governor has is to seek a 5% sales tax on beer, wine, spirits, and nonalcohol beverages. If the plan is approved, the tax will take effect April 1, and will be used to fund health programs. It’s part of his emergency program to close a multi-billion budget gap. He hopes the new tax will bring in $25 million in the last quarter of the fiscal year and about $150 million in fiscal 2O1O. As of press time there had been no final vote on either of the proposals.

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