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Democrats want to raise Maine’s beer, liquor and wine taxes

Rep. Barbara Cardone (D – Bangor) wants to dramatically raise taxes on liquor, wine, beer and other spirits in Maine. Photo courtesy Maine Legislature website.

AUGUSTA – Rep. Barbara Cardone (D – Bangor) and a group of her fellow Democrat lawmakers want to pass a major increase in Maine’s taxes on beer, wine and liquor and Rep. Cardone says if you have a problem with it, you’re drinking too much.

Her bill, titled to focus on where she wants to spend the money instead of the impact of the taxes, would raise taxes on liquor, beer, wine and other spirits in the state of Maine.

The tax on regular wine would increase by 40% from 60 cents to $1 per gallon. The tax on sparkling wine would increase by 26 cents per gallon, from $1.24 to $1.50 and the tax on hard cider would increase from 35 cents to 50 cents per gallon.

Malt liquors, which includes beer, would increase by over 40%, from 35 cents to 50 cents per gallon and liquors would increase by 20% on every “proof gallon” sold.

House Republicans publicized the bill and Rep. Cardone’s statement, which seems to suggest that anyone who opposes tax increases at a time when Maine has record revenue has a drinking problem.

“If this increase is a problem, then you are drinking too much,” said Rep. Cardone.

The bill had a public hearing on April 11th before the Legislature’s Taxation Committee. A work session is scheduled before the Committee on April 18th at 1pm in State House Room 127.

Over the past decade, breweries and wineries have become one of Maine’s biggest economic growth stories, with a study by the University of Maine and the Maine Brewer’s Guild saying that breweries added more than $250 million to Maine’s economy in 2017.

In addition to being recognized for strong growth overall in the industry, a number of Maine breweries have been nominated or won national awards, with Maine earning a national reputation as a hotbed for breweries.

While Cardone claims that her bill will provide funding for domestic violence and suicide prevention, the language of her bill does not mention the programs she claims the tax increases would fund, nor suicide or domestic violence directly. In fact, the only time the bill mentions either suicide or domestic violence is in the title. Click here to L.D. 1070 in full.

Cosponsors of Rep. Cardone’s bill are as follows:

Representative Richard Farnsworth (D – Portland)
Senator Geoffrey Gratwick (D – Penobscot)
Representative Allison Hepler (D – Woolwich)
Representative David McCrea (D – Fort Fairfield)
Representative Lois Reckitt (D – South Portland)

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