New tax on beer, wine, spirits on the table in Illinois

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Just when you're getting ready to enjoy the holiday weekend with a cold one, a brand new tax on beer and liquor is on the table as part of the Governor JB Pritzker's budget plan.

The craft brew scene in Chicagoland is exploding.

"They employ people, they're paying payroll taxes, they're paying property taxes, all the things that are vital to communities," said Illinois Retail Merchants Association's Tanya Triche Dawood.

And now, Governor Pritzker is proposing a new tax on every gallon of beer made in the state, with brewers including Charles St. Clair, who co-owns Black Horizon Brewing in Willowbrook, coming out hard against it.

"It's dreams delayed, you could almost say that. Now we have to figure out a different game plan," St. Clair said.

The proposal would increase the excise per-gallon tax on beer, wine and spirits in Illinois. The tax on beer would go up 20 percent, and for wine and spirits, the tax would go up 47 percent. The 20 percent for beer is only about 5 cents more per gallon, but brewers say every cent adds up.

"We're already taxed four different times on the same batch of beer from federal level, state, city and county as well," said Haymarket Beer Company Director of Operations Michael Gemma. "There are really only two ways for businesses like ours to handle this. You can either absorb the tax into your profit or you can pass it on to the consumer."

And he says that leaves less money for labor, benefits, and improvements.

Plus, if you ask a beer drinker about prices potentially going up, they will not mince words.

"All of the drinks in Chicago are already pretty overpriced, so that seems to be a bit unnecessary," said tourist Liz Edmondson.

There's no proposed bill in the legislature yet, but this would be part of Gov. Pritzker's early plan to improve state infrastructure.

His office says he's working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle on this and hopes to raise 120 million dollars in new alcohol taxes.
Copyright © 2019 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.