Sales Tax on Wine

On August 1, 2009, Massachusetts went from having zero sales tax on wine to having a 6.25% surcharge on every bottle of wine people purchased. I thought this was pretty outrageous, so I decided to poll all my wine visitors to find out what they were paying to enjoy their bottles of wine.

It turns out there is a HUGE range of wine sales taxes across the United States. Wine lovers can literally drive five minutes over a state line and save a substantial amount of money. That is pretty odd in this modern day and age!

If your state is not listed here, please contact me and let me know what you're paying! Countries are welcome to chime in too!

Note that even if something says "none" it is not tax free! Most states are taxing the liquor before it ever gets to your store. They have a built in "alcohol tax" that the wine merchants have to pay to the state. So by adding a sales tax on top of it, the state is "double dipping" on a single item! For example, in New Jersey the state pre-taxes every bottle by


and includes that in the basic "bottle price". So if you saw a bottle of wine on a shelf for $10, the wine was actually only $8 originally plus the 25% New Jersey tax. And then on TOP of that when you go to check out you pay a 7% sales tax on the $10 price. So you're paying sales tax on THEIR tax.


Sales Tax

California8-10% (varies by county, see CA Tax Chart)
Florida6% plus local tax, see FL Tax Chart
Illinois7.5% plus local tax (over 10% total in Chicago)
Massachusetts6.25% (as of Aug 1 2009)
New HampshireNONE
New Jersey7%
North Carolina6.25%-7.25% (varies by county, see NC Tax Chart)
New York4% plus local tax (8.875% total in New York City) (NY Tax Chart)
Ohio5.5% plus local tax by county (see OH Tax Chart)
Pennsylvania25% Pittsburg/Philadelphia, 24% elsewhere (see note A)
Rhode Island7%
South Carolina7% plus additional local tax
Tennessee7% plus additional local tax (can reach at least 9.75%)
British Columbia, Canada17% tax (after 100% markup)

I hand built this table myself based on feedback from my site visitors who live in these states and locations. You'll find many website charts out there on wine sales tax which have incorrect data. For example when Massachusetts had a 5% sales tax it did NOT include alcohol, but many online sales tax charts would show Massachusetts as having a 5% sales tax on wine. Sales tax can be a very tricky thing! The best way to know what someone pays is to ask the person who is paying :)

An interesting idea is that apparently military commissaries sell alcohol with a 5% tax that goes towards local projects. If you have a military base near you, and your normal wine tax is higher than 5%, it might be worth a drive! I found articles talking about military stores not being allowed to sell alcohol, but was updated by JimmyV - "alcohol was sold in commissaries until the military changed the law prohibiting the sale of alcohol in commissaries. However, each base got around that by building a partition with a separate door and entrance (in the SAME building) and then they called it BX Mart. So they shifted the alcohol 50 feet over and away from the food and put up a wall so they can no longer say its sold in commissaries." So there's still alcohol there.


Note A: Pennsylvania has a truly nasty situation in terms of wine. From a visitor KennyZtwo: "You Want to talk about unfair...What about an 18% Johnstown flood tax of 1936 on all alcohol in Pennsylvania that was suppose to be temporary until Johnstown was rebuilt...Well guess what?...the tax was never taken off after all of these years. In addition, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia has a 7% sales tax which includes alcoholic beverages, the rest of Pennsylvania 6%...NOW THAT IS UNFAIR." So adding those two liquor taxes together, you get an outrageously high tax on wine.

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All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.