Liquor-by-the-drink tax generates $60 million for Philly schools, revenue chief says


While a member of Philadelphia City Council said “liquor by the drink” taxes are going uncollected, those in charge of collecting the tax say that is most definitely not the case.

Collections of the tax, which goes exclusively to the city schools, has improved greatly over eight 8 years, said Frank Breslin, Philadelphia revenue commissioner and chief collections officer.

“In 2008, the liquor-by-the-drink tax generated $42 million for the school district,” Breslin said. “By fiscal year 2015, collections grew by 42 percent to $60 million. Most taxpayers pay on time, 91 percent of the tax is collected within the calendar year. Roughly 97 percent is collected within two to three years.”

Councilwoman Cindy Bass, who called for the hearings, has insisted that corner “stop and go” shops are selling liquor over the counter, and not paying taxes.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“Those who are paying their taxes would appreciate that we are putting in the extra effort to make sure that business owners, these are people who own businesses, that they are responsible and operating in a way that’s beneficial to the city and paying their fair share,” she said.

Breslin said the “stop and go” shops typically have licenses to sell only beer and wine.  The state is supposed to enforce the prohibition  on selling liquor, he said.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal