Last we checked in on the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, it had added its 218th co-sponsor in the House of Representatives (now up to 283), giving it a majority in the House. Now we can welcome the Senate to the majority support kegger as senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) became the 50th and 51st Senators to give their official endorsement. This comprehensive and bipartisan bill has done what is often difficult to achieve in the beer industry — it has garnered wide support from from both large and small brewers (or at least the associations that represent them) in the way that it recalibrates the current federal excise tax structure for the nation’s brewers and beer importers.
“It’s been 40 years since excise tax has been reformed for American brewers. Now is the time for change,” said Bob Pease, president and CEO of the Brewers Association, the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers. “When passed, this legislation would enable thousands of small businesses in every state and congressional district to continue to reinvest in their businesses and create jobs.”
The American beer industry supports 1.75 million jobs, contributes nearly $79 billion in wages and benefits each year to American families and generates $253 billion for the U.S. economy.
“Beer lifts us up beyond partisanship, and I want to thank the broad coalition of members of Congress from across the country and from both sides of the aisle for supporting this commonsense legislation that will provide much-needed relief to America’s brewers and beer importers,” said Jim McGreevy, president and CEO of the Beer Institute, which represents brewers, beer importers and supply industries. “Now that a majority of both the House and the Senate support the legislation, we look forward to Congress taking up the bill and moving it to President Obama’s desk to become law.”
The Beer Institute and the Brewers Association are collaborating closely to pass the bill, which was introduced in the Senate by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Roy Blunt (R-MO).
Specific provisions of the bill include:
- Reducing the federal excise tax to $3.50 per barrel on the first 60,000 barrels for domestic brewers producing fewer than 2 million barrels annually.
- Reducing the federal excise tax to $16 per barrel on the first 6 million barrels for all other brewers and all beer importers.
- Keeping the excise tax at the current $18 per barrel rate for over 6 million barrels.
- Reducing bonding and filing requirements for the 90 percent of American breweries that pay less than $50,000 per year in federal excise taxes.
- Expanding the list of ingredients that could be automatically included in beer without federal government approval.
- Allowing small, unaffiliated brewers the ability to collaborate on new beers, and giving them the flexibility to transfer beer between breweries without tax liability.
The Hop Growers of America, the Can Manufacturers Institute, the Glass Packaging Institute, the National Barley Growers Association and the National Corn Growers Association have also endorsed the legislation.