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S.F. Seeks Supplemental Alcohol Tax

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The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has fast-tracked a proposal to add a $.076 per ounce tax on alcohol that would be charged at the wholesale level, the San Francisco Chronicle reported June 27.

If approved, the tax would generate an estimated $15 million in yearly revenue that would be directed toward expenses like ambulance transport, emergency-room visits and alcohol and other drug abuse programs. A similar bill failed in the state legislature earlier this year.

The California Alliance for Hospitality Jobs, among other business-backed groups, has come out against the tax, saying it will hurt trade in an already down economy. Should the measure pass, a court challenge is expected.

Such levies are not unprecedented in the state. Eight counties and cities in California enforce some kind of fee on retailers, though San Francisco would be the first to funnel the revenue to alcohol-related health care rather than regulatory compliance.

“Alcohol consumption costs San Francisco residents tens of millions of dollars in harm every year,” said Bruce Livingston, executive director of advocacy organization the Marin Institute. “It’s time for big alcohol, including wholesalers, to pay its fair share.”

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