JUST ASK SHANE: Questions about WA Liquor Taxes after I-1183 - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

JUST ASK SHANE: Questions about WA Liquor Taxes after I-1183

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KENNEWICK, WA - Voters approved Initiative 1183 to privatize liquor sales in Washington more than two years ago, but there's still some confusion about the taxes involved.  Bob in Yakima sent me an email asking, "Can you find out why the state of Washington continues to collect the 25% tax on liquor sales, when the people voted two years ago that the state could collect this extra tax for just two years to offset the loss from state-run liquor stores?"

There's been a lot of misinterpretation about what's laid out in Initiative 1183, and what Bob is claiming isn't entirely correct.  Initiative 1183 included four distinct taxes and fees on liquor sales.  There is a 20.5% tax on each retail sale, as well as a $3.77 tax on each liter of alcohol sold.  Those taxes were part of the old, state-run system as well.

The initiative added a new 17% fee for retailers, and a 10% fee for distributors.  That distributor fee dropped to 5% in June, but there were no sunset clauses included in the initiative.

I spoke with the Washington State Liquor Control Board this week, and they say if the people aren't happy with the new system, they need to talk to state lawmakers about making changes.

"We license and regulate businesses in the state of Washington that sell and distribute alcohol products, and now marijuana with Initiative 502.  However, we don't have the ability to levy or change the tax structure.  That power lies solely with the legislature," said Mikhail Carpenter with the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

State lawmakers did give small liquor stores a break from the 17% retailer fee, but a bill to do the same for large grocery stores stalled in the legislature during the last session.

Remember, if you've got a question about something going on in our community... send it my way.  You can reach me in the newsroom at (509) 737-6738, or send me an email at JustAskShane@nbcrightnow.com.