Update: The special tax on candy, gum and bottled water was repealed, effective November 2, 2010. The special tax on soda was also repealed.
I was amazed this long Memorial Day weekend by the droves of people running to the liquor stores, warehouse stores, and retail giants to stock up on beer. At first I thought it was the normal mad rush before a long weekend of grilling and drunken debauchery. However, to my surprise most people were running to the beer stores to stock up on their favorite household staples before Washington’s new “Sin Tax” took effect today, June 1, 2010. Everywhere I went I saw beer, candy and cigarettes flying off the shelves.
The State of Washington has implemented a 6.5 percent sales tax law on candy, alcohol, cigarettes and—sin of all sins—bottled water. Other than microbrews, which are exempt from the new state sales tax rate in Washington to help boost local business, a six-pack of beer will be about 28 cents more than last month. Definitely worth the excursion to Walmart to save 28 cents!?!
Candy now will cost you another dime (unless you like Twix, which is considered a food item because of the flour content and is therefore sales tax exempt). The price of a case of bottled water will climb a whopping 26 cents. In a down economy with inflation returning to more normal levels, why the increases?
Washington State lawmakers suggest that the increases in sales tax will help pull the state out of its massive $3 billion budget deficit. And they are not done with the “sin tax” increases: sales tax on soda will increase on July 1.
The state’s beverage association is collecting signatures to try to let voters decide if these sales taxes should continue. For now, expect to spend a few more cents on your sinful Avian Water, devilish Coors Light, and Satanic Snickers.