Budget aims to help RI liquor store owners

The state budget passed by the Rhode Island General Assembly on Thursday includes a measure to help liquor stores compete with neighboring states.

Beginning Dec. 1, there will be no tax on wine and liquor in Rhode Island Stores.

Massachusetts does not have a sales tax on alcohol. Connecticut, however, has a 6.35 percent sales tax on wine and liquor.

The state, however, is raising a tax on alcohol wholesalers and distributors that could be passed along to the consumer. It's unclear what effect the tax shift would have on consumer prices. The increase begins July 1.

Currently, the parking lots of liquor stores in the Bay State are filled with Rhode Island license plates because there are no taxes on liquor.

"I go to Gasparro's and Yankee Spirits in Attleboro," said Peter King, of Warren, who said he would shop in Rhode Island if were no liquor tax.

Nancy Behr, who lives in Riverside, said she comes to Massachusetts liquor stores to save money.

In Warren, Patriot Liquors has new competition from two stores in Barrington but should do somewhat better when the tax disappears.

"It definitely can't hurt. Get some boost in business and get some life around back here," said Rick Lima of Patriot Liquors.

But some shoppers say a couple of cents isn't going to change their shopping pattern which revolves more around geography.

"I don't think they'll gain much of anything. It'll just be how to chase who for what," said Charles Manchester of East Providence.