By Carroll J. Hughes, Executive Director, CPSA
Excise in Excerpt
The October 1, 2019, start period for the new Connecticut excise tax increase of 10% on wine and liquor has come and gone. The implementation and process from when the tax was passed to when the tax took effect was one that was filled with much confusion among all aspects of the industry.
The Finance Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly came up with the idea of the 10% excise increase on wine and liquor after CPSA had successfully lobbied against having wine and liquor bottles added into the expansion of the bottle bill. The General Assembly then voted and passed the budget at the end of the legislative session, which contained the excise tax. Once the budget had been passed, there was confusion among the state agencies as to who was to implement it, and how.
CPSA in the meantime sent out numerous notices educating members of the change in tax on October 1, and the floor tax that needed to be collected. Throughout the summer and early part of the fall, CPSA members were informed on updates as to how the increase in excise tax would operate.
Nearly every day, the phones at CPSA would ring with questions from non-members asking about the details of the excise tax. Some nonmembers called on October 1 that were unaware altogether that there was a tax going into effect that day. While there was some confusion about getting the forms out to stores from the Department of Revenue Services (DRS), CPSA members were informed every step of the way by the updates that were provided to members. CPSA also helped members navigate the price increases to their products on the shelves of their stores.
In turn, nearly every day an employee of CPSA would be on the phone with a member of DRS, trying to learn how far into the process the agency was into sending store owners the floor tax information. With every new piece of information that CPSA was able to attain, we were informing members every step of the process.
Being a part of CPSA not only helps to keep the alcohol retail industry strong, but it often results in being informed about all ongoing issues in Connecticut that could affect a store owner’s business. One thing that the staff of CPSA noticed was the lack of knowledge with nonmembers in regard to regulation or law changes.
In a modern world where brick-and-mortar stores are suffering from online retail shifts, the local package store has become the anchor tenant to many shopping centers. One thing that allows for the package stores to remain as a constant force is being knowledgeable on consumer needs and regulatory changes. Both of those require a store owner to always be on top of the latest information, and being a CPSA member allows for owners to focus strictly on the consumer by allowing CPSA to cover the rest.
Total Wine: Round Three
Total Wine & More is appealing to the United States Supreme Court, the most recent loss in a decision by the federal court in its case against Connecticut on posted prices, discounts and minimum bottle pricing.
After already losing in federal court, this was the next step available to them. The U.S. Supreme Court must agree to hear this case on the appeal out of the hundreds of requests it receives each year.
The Connecticut Package Stores Association will continue to be a part of the opposition in the Total Wine case, along with the Connecticut Wine and Spirits Wholesalers, the Connecticut Restaurant Association and, of course, the State of Connecticut, which has defended the current system regulated by the Department of Consumer Protection.
The CPSA is here to address local industry challenges. Stay informed and become a member today. For more information, visit CPSA online.