The campaign to reform the strict Tennessee beer tax is taking its growing campaign rally to Johnson City, Tenn., at One 12 Downtown, Feb. 22, at 5 p.m. Participants will include legislative sponsor Cameron Sexton, Tri-Cities area beer distributors and brewers and hundreds of beer enthusiasts.
If you haven’t been following the Tennessee beer tax issue, here’s a quick recap of the issues local Tennessee brewers are battling:
The Beer Tax Reform Act of 2013, filed Jan. 29 by Rep. Sexton (R-Crossville) and Sen. Kelsey (R-Germantown), proposes to modernize Tennessee beer tax with a simple modification: It would calculate wholesale tax on volume rather than price and solve Tennessee’s odd (and nationally unparalleled) tax policy that currently results in the beer tax rate rising exponentially higher every year.
Here’s how much higher it rises: In 2008, Tennessee caught and passed Alaska as the top state taxer of beer. By 2012, Tennessee had increased that lead by 12 points, and if the state keeps rising at the current average annual price increase of $1.15, in five years the average tax rate will be $42.75 per barrel – 29 percent higher than Alaska; in 10 years it will be $48.50 – 46 percent higher; in 15 years, it will be $54.25 per barrel – 64 percent higher.
The statewide Fix the Beer Tax campaign launched Jan. 30 in Nashville and has since rallied in Memphis and in Knoxville – resulting each time in an explosion of social media in support of reform. This week the campaign will be visible in dozens of Johnson City area restaurants and craft brewery establishments, inviting consumers though social media to voice support and contact legislators. The campaign is on the Web at www.fixthebeertax.com, on Facebook and on Twitter.
“Tennessee is beyond the tipping point,” said Rich Foge, president of Tennessee Malt Beverage Association. “The current tax policy allows the tax rate to rise unchecked at such a dramatic rise that it is now impacting competitiveness, economic opportunity and costs and choice for consumers. The tax rate is out of control – it’s time to modernize this old tax and make it right.”
What: A rally in support of the Beer Tax Reform Act of 2013
Where: One 12 Downtown – 112 Tipton St., Johnson City, TN 37604
When: Friday, Feb. 22, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Who: Rep. Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville); Tennessee Malt Beverage Association; Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild; National brewers and importers; and hundreds of beer enthusiasts.