Alcohol, cigarettes and services will cost you more Friday
Staffers at Black Rock Wine & Spirits in Fairfield were busy this week. Not just with Fourth of July customers, but readying the store for new tax increases on alcohol that take effect Friday.
"We have computer programmers that had to go and revamp everything, and we had to do a tremendous inventory of the store, which took a lot of time and effort," said store manager Brook Cobaugh.
Under Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's budget, approved by the Legislature, the excise tax on alcohol increases 20 percent, effective Friday. It is one of a variety of products and services subject to new or increased taxes under the state's two-year, $40.1 billion budget plan designed to generate revenue and plug deficits. Under the plan, taxes on all tobacco products will climb from 27.5 percent to 50 percent of the wholesale price. Consumers will also pay taxes on a variety of services not previously taxed, such as yoga classes and manicures. In addition, the sales tax will increase from 6 percent to 6.35 percent.
Cobaugh, 29, said tax increases hurt businesses.
"It can ultimately be another factor to drive people away from the state, and possibly businesses as well," he said.
Before the new tax provisions, a liter of Smirnoff might have had a shelf price of $21.99 and the consumer would have paid a total of $23.31 with tax. Now, the shelf price will be $26.39 and cost $28.06 with the new taxes.
Dave Gallaer, 48, of Easton, said the state needs to create more businesses, rather than raising taxes on products such as liquor and tobacco, known as sin taxes.
"Look at it this way: People, including myself, will just buy a cheaper brand than the high end, so instead of paying $40 we will buy the $30 bottle," said Gallaer. "The tax will just upset everyone and in the end they will spend less."
Frank Samrin, manager of K&H Food Stop in Bridgeport, said he thinks people will be more likely to decrease their purchases of alcohol than cigarettes.
"People will slow down with buying beer, but with cigarettes, I'm sure we are just going to hear a lot of complaints until the costumers get used to it," said Samrin.
Princess Jones, a regular smoker, said she is not likely to cut down on her cigarette purchases.
"Think about it: People said they wouldn't pay $6, but they are," said Jones.
Peter Jenkins, 39, who was shopping at K&H Food Stop, said when times are difficult, people turn to alcohol and cigarettes to relieve stress.
He said the governor should have looked to other ways to close the budget gap.
"The governor, and his office, can take pay cuts and listen to his people," said Jenkins. "He doesn't socialize with any regular people. He's not on the street trying to connect with anyone from the working class."