If you want to bring Congress together, it seems the only thing that is capable of doing so is craft beer (and other craft beverages). I’m talking FEDERAL bipartisanship, folks.
Early this year, Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Representatives Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and Ron Kind (D-WI) reintroduced the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2017 in both houses for the 115th Congress. There are twelve initial sponsors in the Senate and thirteen in the House. Maybe this bill can help quell some of the rancor over more pressing issues. You know, beer summits over a northeast IPA.
The Act is a good one for craft breweries, especially regarding taxes. Among other provisions, the Act would reduce the federal excise tax from $7.00 per barrel to $3.50 per barrel for the first 60,000 barrels (a huge number compared to most craft breweries) for domestic brewers who produce less than two million barrels annually. It also reduces the federal excise taxes for larger breweries and leaves it the same for the largest. The end result is that most craft breweries will see a significant simplification and decrease when it comes to the excise tax per barrel. In short, the Act would establish fair and equitable excise tax reform to conform the tax structure to the modern market.
But that is not all. The Act also appears to ease labeling approvals—a process that can be quite a hassle and that implicates its own regulatory quagmires. Further, it repeals provisions regarding inventory restrictions and eases bonding requirements when moving alcohol from place to place. The end result, ideally, is to add further fuel to the engine to keep the RPMs up. Hopeful byproducts include further job creation, further revenue growth, and, of course, more great beer.
While I am truly hopeful that the Act can help further these goals, I am more interested in the implications the Act raises. What does it say about craft beer that Congress has seen fit to get involved? Why would Congress want to reform the tax code in an area that some believe is still a niche? There is no denying that the craft-beer industry has captured the imagination of the drinking public, but it has also caught the attention of legislators on the federal level. The naysayers cannot make the “flash-in-the-pan” argument any longer with a straight face. Craft beer is no niche. And on some level, it is nice to see Congress’ bipartisan support of something, anything—even if the subject matter doesn’t involve healthcare or national security. Perhaps this is a small first step in building a bridge between the aisles: a bridge that rests on a foundation of tiny carbon dioxide bubbles.
Hat tip to the Brewers Association—keep up the good work.
Let me know what you think. Cheers.
Check out the House version here: