According to lastest issue of "Know Before You Go" by U.S. Custom Service if you are at least 21 years of age; the alcholic item is for your own use and is not in violation of any state laws in the state which you arrive, you can bring in one liter(33.8 fl. oz) which may be included in your $400 exemption. Duty on alcoholic beverages is assessed according to alcoholic content:beer and wine take a lower rate of duty than liqyeres or hard liquor.Alcohloic beverages beyond the one liter limitation are subject to duty and Internal Revenue tax. I once read where the tax on liquor is 13 cents per liter but cannot substantiate this.
Remember you need to be careful about the state restrictions where you bring in the alcoholic beverage. In California, residents are limited to one liter when bringing in liquor from Mexico.
The rule is GENERALLY one liter for spirits UNLESS you are coming in from St.Thomas where it's five liters per person. You can bring in six if one of them is a locally distilled product. (This is working from memory, but I don't think the rules have changed in 20 years for St. Thomas.)
I don't know the $$ amount of the duty on liquor, but a friend recently bought a bunch of tequila in Mexico, toddled up to Customs and asked to declare it. The Customs officer asked how much extra he had (four bottles between his wife and himself) then Mr. Customs said, "Not enough for the trouble. Go back and buy more."
It's not a wise plan to try to sneak liquor in. It's easier to pay the duty and, especially with liquers and other expensive forms of hooch, you're still saving money over the local stores in most states.
If one of your stops is Puerto Rico, you can bring back all the rum you want. As in, you can bring back cases if that's your thing.
Another Customs hint: If you look even halfway well-to-do and didn't buy anything offshore always fill in the Customs form with a nominal amount. "0" raises eyebrows.
Is Mexico where you live? If it is you will need to ask Mexico customs. For the USA, the usual rate is about 10% duty for everything. It dooesn't matter what state you live in, the duty is livied by the US. When I was last in Europe I bought over $4000 worth of stuff and ended up paying only $38 duty. I didn't carry alcohol though. I tried that once before with 5 bottles and saw the box break open on the tarmac at Curacao's airport.
The following is more info on my previous posting in response to bringing into the U.S. more than one liter of liquor. The information is from an older issue of the U.S. Custom booklet, "Know Before You Go"
One bottle can be brought in as an exemption. More than one bottle will be assessed at 10% and I assume this is 10% of the purchase price, plus any federal internal revenue tax The implication seems to be you can bring, you are cautioned to abide by local laws since most states restrict the amount of alcoholic beverages you may import. If the state in which you arrive permits less liquor than you have legally brought into the U.S., that state's laws prevail.
Internal Revue Tax Distilled Spirits per proof liter: all in cents
Brandy 10.6 cents to 89.8 cents
Tequila 33c to 60c
Vodka 13.2c to 67.6c
Other Whiskeys 6.6c
Wine per liter (33.814 fluid ounces)
Still 8.3 to 26.4c
I am not responsible for the accuracy of the tax amount provided in the copy of "Know Before You Go"