NJ wine/spirits tax hike in effect

Anyone who went wine or spirits shopping in New Jersey this weekend found it a different experience.

That's because August 1 was the effective date for a tax increase on the beverages -- a whopping 25% hike meant to help the state gain some footing in its battle against revenue dropoffs. The new rules do not affect beer sales/

Gov. Jon Corzine's tax proposal projected an extra $22 million per year for the state.

The tax is charged by the gallon. For distributors, the tax will amount to an extra 51 cents for a 1.75-liter bottle of whiskey, for example, and three cents for a standard bottle of wine. Precisely how much they raise prices to consumers is up to each vendor.

Jeffrey Warsh, executive director of the New Jersey Wine and Spirits Wholesalers Association, said a $6.99 bottle of wine probably would be raised to $7.49 or even $7.99 rather than the $7.02 that would cover the tax.

Thus, the extra money could help offset any reduction in sales or, in the best of circumstances, make extra money for the vendors. Higher prices for wine and spirits sold to restaurants and taverns likely would see corresponding rises.

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