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State liquor tax history

Area liquor store owners are expecting a much happier New Year thanks to a November ballot measure that repealed the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax on alcoholic beverages.The law goes went into effect today.Many area business owners said when the tax was imposed in 2009 it hurt their business and they are hoping for a more profitable 2011.”I am more than excited,” said Phil Barbanti, owner of Guy’s Liquors in Saugus. “I can’t wait to reprogram my computer to get rid of that 6.25 percent.”Barbanti said the tax took its toll on his business.”I wished it could have gone into effect right off in November,” he said. “It would have helped holiday sales.”Cliff Ansara, who owns Vinnin Square Liquors in Swampscott and Lynnway Liquors in Lynn, said he expects to do an additional $500,000 in business in 2011 because the sales tax has been repealed.”I noticed a drop in sales the last year because of the taxes,” Ansara said. “It really hurt us. Sales in the Lynn store dropped about 8 percent. I saw a lot of my large volume sales going to New Hampshire. I am concerned about what the Governor has up his sleeve though. I think he has us in his sights.”Fran Peralta, owner of C&L Package Store in Swampscott, called 2010 a very tough year but he expects 2011 to be much better.”Our sales dropped when the tax went into effect,” he said. “We lost a lot of our volume customers.”When people are buying large quantities they went to New Hampshire. I think things will be much better this year.”Roy Celani, owner of Cliftondale Liquors in Saugus, said he is hoping to see a rebound in his business but he’s not convinced it will come all the way back to pre-tax status. Celani said when the state dramatically increased the sales tax on cigarettes a few years ago he saw his cigarette sales drop dramatically. Even when the state dropped that tax back slightly he said the business never rebounded because people were already comfortable heading to New Hampshire for cheaper smokes.Celani said his concern now is that people have gotten used to shopping for their alcohol across the border as well and will keep on doing it.”I am happy,” he added. “Absolutely, now I don’t have to be a book keeper for the state ? I’m just hoping things will be OK.”George Shube, who owns Shubie’s Marketplace in Marblehead, said his family has been in business and held a liquor license for 60 years.”We’re thrilled it passed,” he said. “I think this will help all the package stores in our area. I think many of us saw a dip in sales due to the sales tax. It’s hard to quantify, but I have absolutely lost business over the last year since the tax went into effect. I know I have had people come to the counter and tell me they were in New Hampshire over the weekend and bought alcohol there.”Cliff Ansara, owner of Vinnin Square Liquors in Swampscott and Lynnway Liquors in Lynn, hung banners outside his package store in Lynn in November urging voters to repeal the sales tax on alcohol.”I noticed a drop in sales the last year because of the taxes,” Ansara said. “Sales in the Lynn store dropped between 6 and 8 percent. I saw a lot of my large volume sales going to New Hampshire. It was a double-dip tax and it hurt us.”Despite the repeal of the sales tax, alcohol isn’t completely devoid of taxes. Retailers pay an excise tax under state law, which is why beer, wine and alcohol were exempt from the state’s sales tax until last year. Barbanti said he is now hearing talk that Governor Deval Patrick plans to increase the excise tax on wholesalers. If that happens, he said, the tax increase will again become part of the price of the alcohol.”It will be like the tax never went away,” he said.Barbanti said it won’t surprise him if Patrick does increase the excise tax. He said he feels the state has gained too much financially with the sales tax to let it go.”I know how much I pay every month and I’m just a little liquor store,” he said. “Look at the big places like Kappy’s or Blanchards, what kind of mone

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