The Boston Globe reported today that two Boston city councilors have filed a “home rule petition” seeking approval of a 1 to 2 percent sales tax on all retail sales of alcoholic beverages within Boston (whether in restaurants, bars, supermarkets or package stores). The substantial revenues that would be collected – expected to reach millions of dollars annually – would be earmarked exclusively for support of substance abuse prevention and treatment programs.
The proposal was offered by City Council President Bill Linehan and City Councilor Frank Baker. In order to go into effect, it would need to first be passed by both the Boston City Council and the State Legislature. The Globe reported that Mayor Walsh released a statement sympathetic with the goals of treatment programs, but was non-committal regarding passage of the proposed tax. Alcoholic beverages are already subject to an excise tax, and a state-wide sales tax at the retail level passed by the Legislature in 2009 was repealed by voters in a statewide referendum in 2010.
The Globe also reported that the proposal for a new tax on alcohol sales was quickly opposed by several industry groups.