Alcohol tax would hurt business, not help budget

December 27, 2009

Your recent editorial "It's Miller Time?" (Dec. 18) severely misrepresented the impact that raising the tax on beverage alcohol will have on the state of Maryland and its hospitality industry. As a Maryland resident and employee of Diageo, which employs more than 300 Maryland residents at our local bottling plant in Relay, I'm concerned that you are downplaying the potential damage of this tax. It's the hardworking citizens - like those who work on our bottling line - who will bear the brunt of this tax.

Raising taxes on consumer products always means job losses. The last time federal excise taxes were raised just on distilled spirits, 98,000 jobs were lost in our industry. The proposal on the table right now could cost Marylanders between 1,400 and 2,400 jobs in our industry. With an unemployment rate that is already too high, we can't afford to lose even one more.

Tax hikes on beverage alcohol will do nothing to balance our state's budget. Rather, Maryland residents will simply flock across state borders to shop.

In these tough economic times, the last thing anyone needs is the cost of his or her favorite drink to increase. But perhaps more importantly, this tax increase would adversely affect the livelihoods of hard-working Maryland residents - such as manufacturers, distributors, servers and bartenders - in our community. Pietro Di Pilato, Relay

The writer is vice president for supply at Diageo North America's Relay Facility.

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