Assemblywoman Russell Authors Bill to Repeal Wine and Beer ‘Floor Tax’

New legislation would nix the tax and refund monies paid by businesses that have already complied
May 29, 2009

Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell (D-Theresa) stood with business leaders today to announce she is introducing legislation that would repeal the costly “floor tax” imposed on wholesalers, retailers, restaurants and other store owners who sell beer and wine (A08576). The measure would also refund taxes paid upon application by those who already complied with the floor tax and paid their bill ahead of the July 20th deadline.

“Between the new floor tax and the increased excise tax, businesses that sell beer and wine are being taxed twice, an unfair situation that is amounting to thousands of dollars in extra taxes for small-business owners,” Assemblywoman Russell said. “The measure is not only unfair, but it is also not conducive to helping New York’s small businesses during these daunting economic times, when they most need help. Small businesses account for 80 percent of new jobs created in New York. Imposing an additional tax just hurts them more, thus stunting New York’s chances for economic growth and stability.”

The floor tax requires business owners to pay an additional 11 cents per gallon of wine and 3 cents per gallon of beer in their inventories, an amount that adds up quickly and significantly for small businesses, Assemblywoman Russell said.

According to local business owners, the floor tax has driven recent sales down, as much as 20 percent in some cases, because businesses were forced to cut their inventories to avoid being taxed twice on their stock. Each business’s tax bill is based on inventories taken on April 30th. Unlike the excise tax, the floor tax must be paid to the state in one lump sum, forcing businesses to come up with hundreds or thousands of dollars on the spot – a difficult task for small businesses that already operate on tight budgets.

Assemblywoman Russell has also drawn up an anti-floor tax petition that is currently being circulated at local restaurants, taverns, breweries, wineries and liquor stores, giving small business owners the opportunity to band together and show their concerns about or opposition to the tax. Customers or any interested party may sign the petition on site, and they may also request a petition from either of Assemblywoman Russell’s district offices.

“I am working with local business leaders and we are urging the state Legislature to consider the negative impact the floor tax is having on small businesses across the state,” Assemblywoman Russell said. “We want this tax repealed before the end of session, and we want to make sure that businesses that have already paid their floor tax bill get the money refunded.”

To request a petition, write to or contact:

Jefferson County District Office
Dulles State Office Building
317 Washington St., Suite 210
Watertown, NY 13601
(315) 786-0284

St. Lawrence County District Office
70 Main St., Suite One
Canton, NY 13617
(315) 386-2037