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San Francisco Board of Supervisors Approve Alcohol Fee

On Tuesday, September 21st, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a controversial fee on alcohol that would take effect January 1st, 2011. Within hours, Mayor Gavin Newsom vetoed the plan. The question remains whether the board has the necessary eight votes to overcome his veto.

Proponents believe the $16 million in revenue the fee will generate is necessary to offset the cost of services such as ambulance rides, hospital visits and alcohol abuse centers/programs for alcoholics. They say the fee would only result in a small increase in costs for local consumers and business owners.

Opponents argue the fee is an additional tax on businesses struggling in a weak economy, who already have to pay San Francisco specific employment and health care taxes. They also argue the fee is an illegal tax and violates state law.

We are waiting to see what the Board of Supervisors does next. Avalos has implied the fee might be appropriate for a public vote if he is unable to secure the necessary votes from the Board. However, past history has shown Californians are not receptive of an increase in taxes on alcohol. For example, a statewide initiative proposed earlier this year for a sizeable increase on the tax to alcohol was not able to obtain the signatures necessary to qualify for the ballot (Initiative 1461).

Alcohol.law Digest is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.


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