PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — On Friday morning, Uncle Jimmy’s Spirits & Food in Oakland became Allegheny County’s 48th establishment shut down by Treasurer John Weinstein for failure to pay the seven percent drink tax.
“This particular bar, Jon, owes the county $15,000 in back alcoholic beverage tax,” Weinstein told KDKA money editor Jon Delano.
“We have reached out to this establishment many, many times, tried to get them to work with us to pay the bill, and had to go to court, and the judge issued an order, and we executed on that order.”
Since the drink tax was instituted in 2008, Weinstein says he has recovered more than a million dollars for the taxpayers by shutting down bar owners who collect the tax from customers but pocket it for themselves.
“This is not their money,” said Weinstein. “This is Allegheny County money that this bar has collected and has failed to remit to us.”
The treasurer says the vast majority of restaurant and bar owners comply with the law, although some seem to push the edge.
Weinstein tells KDKA that all kinds of establishments fail to pay the drink tax on time.
The restaurant Il Pizzaiolo in Mt. Lebanon was scheduled to be padlocked Friday morning, except they came up with the drink tax just in the nick of time.
“They failed to remit the tax on time for the last five or six months,” said Weinstein, “and we’ve gone through the process with them, multiple notices, multiple hearings. Everyone knows what the process is.”
Repeated failure to pay means the sheriff shows up to change the locks and itemize the contents of the place which could be sold off to pay the tax man.
So how much has the drink tax taken in over the last eight years?
“Since 2008 we have collected $235 million in the drink tax,” noted Weinstein. “That’s a lot of alcohol poured in Allegheny County.”