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Liquor deals: Selling to our neighbors

August 10. 2018 2:37PM

Pictured is the state liquor store located at 292 Daniel Webster Highway in Nashua. (Kimberly Houghton/Union Leader Correspondent file photo)

Don't tell Andru Volinsky, but the New Hampshire Liquor Commission is trying to boost sales to customers in other states.

The Democratic executive councilor took part in an undercover sting operation because he was worried about out-of-state customers loading up on New Hampshire liquor in order to sell it on the black market elsewhere. But selling liquor to our neighbors is an important piece of our state government's revenue stream.

New Hampshire's state-owned liquor stores have always had a price advantage over neighboring states because they don't need to tax liquor sales. They just pocket the profits. Now, the Liquor Commission is turning our neighbors' high sales taxes against them.

The "No Taxation on Our Libations" sale offers discounts of twice the sales tax in a customer's state through Labor Day. That means 11 percent savings for Maine shoppers, and 13 percent off for Bay Staters. Granite Staters can receive a 13 percent discount, even though they pay no sales tax. That's a great deal.

It reminds us of Massachusetts furniture stores offering customers twice their sales tax back. The New Hampshire Liquor Commission is charged with running its stores like a business, rather than a government bureaucracy. And stealing a good idea is very businesslike.

The Liquor Commission says the "No Taxation" sale is already its most successful online marketing effort. With the Legislature expecting healthy liquor revenues, this will help reduce the burden on New Hampshire taxpayers.

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