NTU Urges Opposition to Washington State Alcohol License Fee Hike

Dear Members of the Washington House of Representatives:

On behalf of National Taxpayers Union (NTU) and its members in Washington State, I strongly urge you to oppose House Bill 1965. Among other provisions, the bill would, if enacted, impose an additional 11 percent fee for initial and renewal applications for spirits, beer, and wine licenses and permits issued by the Liquor Control Board. This fee would be on top of the licensing or permitting fee that is already required, though the fee would not be applied on top of the 17 percent spirits retail license fee and the five to ten percent license levy that spirits distributors currently pay.

Subsection 2 of Section 1 of House Bill 1965 establishes that this fee increase will sunset on June 30, 2017. Taxpayers ought to be extremely apprehensive about whether this provision would actually be allowed to take effect; history is replete with examples of temporary taxes and fees becoming permanent. Meanwhile, Section 3 of the bill specifies that revenues generated by the fee hike will be used to modernize the Liquor Control Board’s licensing and enforcement system.  If the system is truly in need of upgrades, the House of Representatives should use existing revenues to fund such a project, rather than piling additional fees onto businesses.

All told, this double digit fee hike contained in House Bill 1965 would raise approximately $3.4 million over the next two years, according to a fiscal analysis provided by the State of Washington’s Office of Financial Management. Raising fees on most licenses and permits issued by the Liquor Control Board will hurt alcohol producers, distributors and retailers, who employ numerous residents of the Evergreen State. Likewise, the fee hike will be borne by consumers by way of higher prices. Accordingly, NTU strongly encourages you to defeat House Bill 1965 in its current form.


Clark Packard

Policy and Government Affairs Manager