More than a month into Washington state’s new laws on liquor sales, and consumers are still feeling the afterburn of sticker shock from taxes not necessarily shown on the shelf. Now, thankfully, there’s an app for that.

Developed by Seattle-based tech journalist Matt Hickey (writer for The Daily and other publications) and Ryan Leisinger and Jon Ponsford (both from Olympia) the new app, Washington State Liquor Tax, figures out how much that bottle of hooch is going to cost you once the hefty state tax is factored in.

It works fairly simply: Just plug in the shelf price (typically listed without tax at some major retailers about town), and the size of the bottle, and it will calculate how much it’s actually going to cost you. For example, a $16.99 bottle at 750 ml (or a “fifth” to you booze hounds) will cost $23.30 in the checkout line.

Hickey also told us that they are working on future versions that will “include the ability to share deals one finds with friends, the ability to find hidden deals nearby, and a system to alert a user when their favorite booze goes on sale.”

The WA State Liquor Tax app should also be available for Android soon, and they’re looking at a Windows Phone 7 version, too. There are at least three competing iPhone apps at this time: WA Liquor Tax Calculator, WA State Liquor Tax Calculator and Washington State Liquor Tax Calculator.

The fellows developed the app, which costs 99 cents, in response to the confusion around Washington’s new liquor laws and pricing, something that’s been causing much havoc around the area, as recently reported by the News Tribune of Tacoma. Karen Ferguson, the owner of Ruston Liquor Store, told the paper, “I put it [total price] there big and bold so the customers don’t flip out…We explain it to people who are having issues. We get beat up every day. People yell at us every day.”

And yet another reason to avoid Tacoma. … But please, folks, be kind to your liquor dispensary folks and bartenders. After all, it’s not their fault that your lawmakers are teetotalers.

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  • BlaineMillet

    Why would anyone pay for such a simple app – especially when there are several already in the market that do EXACTLY the same thing – consumer beware, just because it has a charge, doesn’t make it better. Shop for your apps as wisely as you shop for your liquor…

  • ABC, BBD

    I use the WA Liquor Tax Calculator ( It works perfectly, has a clean and usable interface, and is free. Why would anyone pay for the same functionality with a worse interface?

  • Noodlestein

    I’m currently in the process of making one for Windows Phone 7 as It’s the phone I have. Funny thing is I was planning on adding a local area google price thingamjig to it.
    If they could charge 99c for a basic calculation program (Which I made in excel before deciding to make my own) I could easily get away with that with mine.. wouldn’t even be sure it’s worth that much

    Shame I updated to Silverlight 5 without realizing how it totally breaks Visual Web Dev 2010 -.-
    I’d agree with Blaine though, if you can find a free one you might as well go with that instead since this does the very basic of basics for the task at hand.

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