2010 Information For Voters

QUESTION 1: Law Proposed by Initiative Petition

Sales Tax on Alcoholic Beverages

Do you approve of a law summarized below, on which no vote was taken by the Senate or the House of Representatives before May 4, 2010?


As required by law, summaries are written by the State Attorney General, and the statements describing the effect of a “yes” or “no” vote are written jointly by the State Attorney General and the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

This proposed law would remove the Massachusetts sales tax on alcoholic beverages and alcohol, where the sale of such beverages and alcohol or their importation into the state is already subject to a separate excise tax under state law. The proposed law would take effect on January 1, 2011.


A YES VOTE would remove the state sales tax on alcoholic beverages and alcohol where their sale or importation into the state is subject to an excise tax under state law.

A NO VOTE would make no change in the state sales tax on alcoholic beverages and alcohol.

See Full Text of Question 1


As provided by law, the 150-word arguments are written by proponents and opponents of each question, and reflect their opinions. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts does not endorse these arguments, and does not certify the truth or accuracy of any statement made in these arguments. The names of the individuals and organizations who wrote each argument, and any written comments by others about each argument, are on file in the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

IN FAVOR: This ballot question repeals the 6.25% sales tax on beer, wine, and liquor imposed last year. Massachusetts’ consumers have always paid a substantial excise tax on alcohol purchases. However, before last year, Massachusetts had no sales tax on the purchase of alcohol. The new sales tax should be repealed because it is an unfair “double tax;” a sales tax on top of an excise tax. The new sales tax has hurt small business owners who sell beer, wine, and liquor, particularly near New Hampshire, which has no sales tax on alcohol. Business has declined substantially for many of those stores. A ‘yes’ vote eliminates an unfair “double tax” on consumers and helps Massachusetts small businesses.

Authored by:
Frank Anzalotti
Committee To Repeal the Alcohol Sales Tax
c/o One Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02108

AGAINST: Alcohol is not a necessity and does not deserve a special tax exemption. The only goods in Massachusetts exempt from the sales tax are necessities like food, clothing, and prescriptions. If anything should be taxed, products like cigarettes and alcohol should be.

Revenues from the alcohol tax provide dedicated funding for healthcare services for more than 100,000 residents with behavioral health problems. Massachusetts has some of the highest rates of alcohol and drug abuse in the country - the last thing we need is to take money away from prevention and treatment services to make alcohol more accessible. The alcohol tax helps saves lives by reducing teen drinking and funding treatment services to help people beat addictions and get their lives back on track.

Nearly every state has a sales tax on alcohol in addition to excise taxes. Massachusetts faces a serious budget deficit; don’t give alcohol a special exemption.

Authored by:
Vic DiGravio, Treasurer
Committee Against Repeal of the Alcohol Tax
c/o Association for Behavioral Healthcare
251 W. Central Street
Natick, MA 01760
508-647-8385 x-11