A couple observations:
There is always "salesmanship" going on between pro-tax ("it's only a three per cent tax increase!" "only a dime a drink!") versus anti-tax ("fifty per cent increase in taxes!" "1200 per cent increase in the proposed excise tax rate!"). Of course, please ask your math teachers which descriptions are more accurate. But I noticed that the Baltimore Sun held off on using the description of a "fifty per cent increase" until this weekend, when the deal was all but over with. Bias? You decide. (They had run editorials favoring the tax increases in earlier excise tax proposals.)
Remember that lovely "bait and switch" tactic where the excise tax was proposed with revenues going to specific health programs, and then once everyone got that in their heads and favored a tax increase, it shifted to a sales tax increase to be phased in over three years, with much (not all) of the money targeted to education programs in Baltimore and Prince George's County (cue the damned "won't somebody think of the children?!?" violins and Kabuki dance...) Well, now the latest proposal is to impose the sales tax increase all at once in July.
GEE?!?!?! WHO in hell could have seen THAT coming????????? You mean our honorable legislators tricked us to get our support for a tax increase??????
A lot of commentary has been raised about the potential for larger consumers of alcohol to simply jump across state lines to a state with lower taxes to save on the likes of cases of expensive wines or spirits. Many folks use the potential of Delaware as a shopping option.
Folks who suggest that haven't tried it. It has been my experience over twenty years that Delaware's prices, though spared the 6% (soon to be 9%, I'm wagering) sales tax of Maryland, have been marginally higher than Maryland's, due in part to Delaware excise taxes being higher (16 cents per gallon on beer as opposed to Maryland's nine cents; national median is 18.5 cents and national average 27.8 cents; wine is 40 cents versus 97 cents and spirits $1.50 versus $5.46/gallon). In my personal experience in purchasing beer at Delaware retail, the increased retail price typically negated any sales tax savings--a sixer of $6.99 beer in Maryland would cost $7.99 in Delaware, for example.
Beer excise taxes in Pennsylvania are lower at eight cents a gallon (believe it or not), but the typically horrendous selection brought about in part by the "case law" pretty well negates the prospect of anyone from Maryland shopping for beer anywhere near the Maryland border. Indeed I have had one Maryland retail outlet with a good selection of craft beers tell me, years ago, that "a full 40% of our annual revenue is from what we call the 'Pennsylvania navy'--boaters from Pennsylvania loading up their boat trailers southbound to the [Chesapeake] Bay Thursday or Friday, then stopping to load up again northbound Sunday or Monday."
Virginia beer excise taxes? 25.65 cents a gallon. West Virginia: 18 cents a gallon. An overview of all the states and D.C alcohol excise and sales taxes here.
So, assuming the sales tax is raised, nobody's going to save any substantial amount of money skipping across the borders. It's like the guy who chances running out of gasoline to save five cents a gallon, or fifty cents to a dollar on a $35-70 of gas.
What will most likely happen, however, is that many now-popular retail venues on the "borderlands" or close to them, places such as State Line Liquors between Newark, Del. and Elkton, Md., or Chevy Chase Liquors just north of the D.C. city line, will lose the price advantage they formerly offered for those (such as well-to-do folks from Delaware's New Castle County) who chose a slight detour over a line for what could be a substantial cost savings, in addition to a typically wider selection offered by Maryland distributors and retailers. Legal or no, you could see cars with Delaware and Pennsylvania tags (and even DC and Virginia tags) all the time in State Line's parking lot, as people loaded up their cellars with cases of finer wines or procured a wedding's worth of booze. The superior selection may remain, but not the price advantage. I therefore forecast a not-insignificant reduction in total sales revenues at these locations, enough to impact the projected revenues raised from the tax increases.
Anyone wanna wager otherwise?