Oregon OKs surcharge on spirits sales

Consumers will be hit with an additional 50-cent tax on every bottle of distilled spirits purchased in Oregon.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission approved the surcharge to take effect April 1 for a three-month period. The goal is to help ease the pressure on the state treasury after legislators imposed $3.8 million in cuts on liquor agents to help balance the budget for the fiscal year that ends June 30.

The surcharge will affect only distilled spirits. A proposal to raise the state tax on beer has stalled in the House. There are no current proposals to raise taxes on wine.

Oregon has an unusual setup under which the state buys and sells all hard liquor. (Go here for the details.) The 240 independent agents in the state get a commission for operating the stores that sell it, getting at most 8.88% of sales.

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