There has been a ton of support to improve the Tennessee tax law for craft brewers. Last week, supporters gathered in Memphis. This week, they’re headed to Knoxville, Tenn. The statewide campaign to reform 1950s era beer tax policy that is the root cause of Tennessee’s dubious rank as the nation’s highest beer tax state will conduct a Knoxville rally at Old City’s Barley’s Tap Room & Pizzeria, Feb. 15, at 5 p.m. Participants will include legislative sponsor Cameron Sexton, Memphis-area beer distributors, brewers and hundreds of beer enthusiasts.
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 began last week in Nashville with an event that attracted more than 400 Tennesseans and resulted in an explosion of statewide social media in support of legislative reform. This week the campaign will be visible in dozens of Memphis 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 at www.facebook/fixthebeertax; and on Twitter at @fixthebeertax.
“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: Barley’s Tap Room & Pizzeria – 200 E. Jackson Ave., Knoxville, Tennessee 37915
When: Friday, Feb. 15, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Who: Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown); Tennessee Malt Beverage Association; Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild; National brewers and importers; and hundreds of consumers.