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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 8

The License Tax

The License Tax.

In Missouri, the manufacture of alcohol in all its different forms, whether for use in the arts or consumption as a beverage, is left at present entirely to the control of the National Government. But the retail of intoxicating beverages is taken charge of by the State, declared to be unlawful in the first instance, and only permitted where a license has been obtained. The statute is carefully prepared, consists of many sections, purports to be pre-eminently a tax on the occupation, and has stringent provisions for enforcement, if only they were called into effect.

I have experienced some difficulty in arriving at exact results, even as to the mere matter of revenue under this law, from defective statements, poor compilation, and clear evasions attendant upon its loose administration.

It would seem that if the State goes into the business of "intoxicating" at all, it ought at least to report accurately to the people—if not the murders, robberies, embezzlements, suicides, divorces, seductions, bankruptcies and promiscuous knaveries incited thereby,—yet at least the revenue got, the alcohol distilled, the aggregate of liquors sold, and the gross earnings of the licensed retailers. All that can be gathered from the Auditor's report is that the total of merchant and other licenses foots up about $250,000 dollars a year, and it is estimated by him that dram shops yield about one-half of this sum. Thus