Taxes on Liquor, Beer on Tap for Legislators

LITTLE ROCK (AP) - The focus in the current legislative session has been on cutting taxes, but two senators want to give social programs a funding boost by raising taxes on alcoholic beverages. Bills by Senator Percy Malone and Hank Wilkins IV would tax retail beer and liquor sales in the state to raise money for programs for neglected and abused children, substance abuse education and victims of domestic violence.

Malone's bill would place a one percent tax on retail beer sales throughout the state. Malone said the money would be put in general revenues but target programs set up by legislation that he and others introduced this session to help abused and neglected children. The proposed tax would raise about $3 million a year.

The measure by Wilkins was still being worked on Wednesday, but would eventually levy a five percent tax on liquor purchased at bars, private clubs and at liquor stores throughout the state. Wilkins said restaurants and hotels would be exempt from the tax.

Malone's proposal comes as the state's current 3 percent tax on beer is set to expire June 30th. The tax, extended every two years since 2001, formerly funded early childhood education programs. Because the tax will expire, Malone said he was confident his measure would win legislative support. The Senate Committee on Revenue and Taxation endorsed the bill Wednesday. It now heads to the Senate floor.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)