There is a popular piece of legislation that may actually change the excise tax regulations in the country, lessening the burden on craft brewers. Getting here has been a process, but the entire industry seems ready to compromise on this bill. And if this legislation gains traction and gets through Congress, most craft brewers by the BA definition will benefit — but not all.
And that’s the tricky thing here: Getting Congress involved in legislation that cuts taxes for craft brewers means more-officially defining a “small producing craft brewer.” And this process is less sensitive to industry criteria and relationships. This bill would reduce the federal beer excise tax on the first 60,000 bbls produced by domestic brewers that produce fewer than 2 million bbls annually to $3.50 per barrel.
Check out that bold number. Defining small for this bill means nudging the top, top level of craft brewers out of the club and capping it lower for anyone else with Boston Beer aspirations (at least in the eyes of the tax man). So yes, pretty much all of you reading this are going to benefit, but the few of you wearing monocles might be less excited.
Fussing about the craft beer definition has never been one of our favorite things, but now that this definition could drastically improve the bottom of line of the smallest brewers out there, we find it way more interesting. This article on MarketWatch perfectly lays it all out there:
[The craft brewing industry] didn’t need the extra money. However, with Anheuser-Busch InBev buying up small breweries and MillerCoors finding success with its BlueMoon brands, craft beer needed a little help differentiating itself from its rapidly improving competitors. By drawing firm lines and forcing the craft beer industry to make tough decisions, Wyden’s bill accomplishes that goal and defines craft in a way that craft brewers couldn’t or wouldn’t. By letting go of a big portion of its past, craft beer can focus on a less contentious, more prosperous future. That isn’t a consolation prize to grouse about: It’s a gift that craft brewers should be far more grateful for.