Excellent news: Bipartisan senators looking to lower the excise taxes on craft beer

posted at 6:31 pm on May 12, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

There was a time in our history when the American-made beer selection was nothing to get excited about, and indeed, at which the long-established foreign brewers of the old world would disdainfully turn up their noses. Thanks to a cut in the federal excise tax on beer produced by smaller brewers in 1976, however, those dog days are over, and the American beer market is a thriving and striving industry with a wide and diverse selection of craft-beer deliciousness. There are more than 2,300 breweries in the U.S. today, and our beer production is second only to China’s.

A bipartisan group of eighteen senators is now looking to spur America’s beer industry even further, and they’re pushing legislation that would once again slash the beer excise tax for small brewers even further, via Roll Call:

The bipartisan group, led by Maryland Democrat Benjamin L. Cardin and Maine Republican Susan Collins, wants to cut the excise tax in half, to $3.50 a barrel, on the first 60,000 barrels of beer. Other taxes would also be reduced.

“Maine is home to dozens of unique craft breweries and brewpubs that invigorate our economy by providing more than 1,000 jobs and drawing countless tourists into our state,” Collins said in a statement. …

“Small breweries throughout Upstate New York not only brew great beer, they also pour jobs into communities across the country,” Schumer said…

It is just one of a slew of narrowly targeted tax provisions that could come under scrutiny as part of a bid to overhaul and simplify the federal tax code.

Even better, there’s a bipartisan companion bill that goes even further making its way through the House, too, via Forbes:

Brewers are hoping that a recent “beer tax-relief bill” will keep that momentum going. The Brewers Excise and Economic Relief Act of 2013 (the “BEER Act” – see how clever those politicians are?), H.R. 1918, would reduce excise taxes for all brewers and beer importers, especially small brewers. The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), is intended to ease the economic burden on the country’s 2,100 brewing companies.

The BEER Act calls for a reduction in federal excise taxes on brewers to its pre-1991 levels. That affects your wallet since, on average, 40% of the cost of every beer goes to federal, state and local taxes. If you’re wondering how that compares to other excise taxes, federal taxes make up less than 10% of the price of your gas – and in most states, the additional state tax burden remains relatively low. By the numbers, at .05 per 12 oz., the federal excise tax burden alone on beer works out to about 53 cents per gallon (for the sake of apples to apples, the federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon).

53 cents a gallon? That is egregious, I say! And I must of course throw in the qualifier that I’d much rather the federal government be talking about how to drastically cut back on our out-of-control spending habits to lower the public debt and simultaneously slashing all of these sorts of highly specific and complex taxes in order to grow the economy and fuel competition — but, if we’re not talking about that, then… you won’t catch me complaining about this one, and not just because it could help create jobs.


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Uncle Sugar will figure out a way to Fast-n-FallingOver the situation to blame America and tax the hellouttait anyway.

Limerick on May 12, 2013 at 6:35 PM

Even a blind pig…

Cleombrotus on May 12, 2013 at 6:37 PM

I like girls who drink beer.” – Toby Keith

myiq2xu on May 12, 2013 at 6:37 PM

This is what senators are worried about — the excise tax on beer?

Liam on May 12, 2013 at 6:42 PM

These bills have been around for a few years, but the problem is that the explosive growth of this industry will make lessening the tax — at least in Congress’s books — more expensive.

Finding a pay for that both sides can agree on will be difficult.

bomble on May 12, 2013 at 6:46 PM

Its a good move since the blossoming up of home-brew has been great for this nation, but my understanding of the issue is that many big brewers own smaller craft brews, so they will qualify as well. Of course its all good if you think about it.

rob verdi on May 12, 2013 at 6:47 PM

This is great news!

Those White house beer summits will be cheaper…

Electrongod on May 12, 2013 at 6:50 PM

Bi-partisan? BS.

Craft beer appeals to blue-staters and the “smart growth” crowd which is why you see a guy like Schumer, who normally can’t find a tax he doesn’t like, suddenly so hot to reduce taxes on “craft beer”.

A lot of these small breweries, like the ones in my Upstate NY town already receive a ton of tax incentives and property tax breaks to locate in downtown areas. Guess who pays for that? The property taxpayers like me, who pay the full tax on my own property.

Don’t worry, old Chuckie, I’m sure, is quick working on a way to make up for the lost revenue, particularly in NY State where everything that moves is already taxed. And I’m sure I’ll get screwed over, like always.

Dreadnought on May 12, 2013 at 6:50 PM

Sounds like a good time for HA to supplement its offerings by starting up its own trademark HA micro-brew.

WhatSlushfund on May 12, 2013 at 6:51 PM

Those White house beer summits will be cheaper…

Electrongod on May 12, 2013 at 6:50 PM

Oh no. Those we want to tax the living crud out of.

Limerick on May 12, 2013 at 6:52 PM

Bayam should be along any minute to defend Big Beer like Budweiser, while denigrating craft beer.

tom daschle concerned on May 12, 2013 at 6:53 PM

That is absolutely brilliant!

Right now the beer market is almost a full blown duopoly, where Anheuser-Busch InBev and Miller-Coors own 90%+ of the market.

It is only possibly through the states and federal government’s regulation of alcohol distribution. Breweries are almost wholly banned from selling directly to taverns/bars and grocery stores, because the government requires them to sell through a middle-mad (distributor).

AB InBev and Miller-Coors went after the distributors by either buying them out or contracting them, forcing all of the small breweries fight over whatever distribution is left for them. Any change to the three-tiered distribution system is decried and virtually shut down by their lobbyists.

Anyhow, the slashing of the excise tax would be an absolute boon to the small business craft brewers.

ZachV on May 12, 2013 at 6:54 PM

Red Stripe is some horrid beer, but they had some great commercials.

HOORAY BEER!

Steve Eggleston on May 12, 2013 at 6:58 PM

Don’t worry, old Chuckie, I’m sure, is quick working on a way to make up for the lost revenue, particularly in NY State where everything that moves is already taxed. And I’m sure I’ll get screwed over, like always.

Dreadnought on May 12, 2013 at 6:50 PM

Glad to see an HA conservative finally agree that these perpetual tax cuts for the so called small businesses/ job creators are truly paid for by the working American..

HotAirLib on May 12, 2013 at 6:59 PM

Bread, beer, and circuses.

MelonCollie on May 12, 2013 at 7:04 PM

Don’t worry, old Chuckie, I’m sure, is quick working on a way to make up for the lost revenue, particularly in NY State where everything that moves is already taxed. And I’m sure I’ll get screwed over, like always.

Dreadnought on May 12, 2013 at 6:50 PM

Glad to see an HA conservative finally agree that these perpetual tax cuts for the so called small businesses/ job creators are truly paid for by the working American..

HotAirLib on May 12, 2013 at 6:59 PM

Rule of thumb: If Schumer is for it, I’m sure to get screwed.

And yes Mr. (or Ms.) Lib. You and I do agree on targeted tax breaks. Crony capitalism at its finest, which every conservative
should be against, whether it involves beer or not.

Dreadnought on May 12, 2013 at 7:07 PM

There was a nice article recently saying that American craft beers were even making headway in Germany. They noted that many of the German brands taste similar due to 500 year old German beer purity laws that force standardized ingredients and brewing processes.

BohicaTwentyTwo on May 12, 2013 at 7:09 PM

And yes Mr. (or Ms.) Lib. You and I do agree on targeted tax breaks. Crony capitalism at its finest, which every conservative
should be against, whether it involves beer or not.

Dreadnought on May 12, 2013 at 7:07 PM

Wow. We agree again. Wall Street/I am for everything BIbi is for Schumer is far from any politician I like.

HotAirLib on May 12, 2013 at 7:18 PM

Red Stripe is some horrid beer, but they had some great commercials.

HOORAY BEER!

Steve Eggleston on May 12, 2013 at 6:58 PM

You think so? I’ve always really liked Red Stripe. But, then again, I have plebian beer tastes. My usual go-to is Bud Light.

My theory is that Red Stripe was brewed to work together nicely with ganja.

WhatSlushfund on May 12, 2013 at 7:23 PM

If only this could make up for all of Sen. Collins’ wrongdoings this year. Unfortunately, I can’t afford the volume of Shipyard Summer Ale that it’d require to make me forgive and forget her RINO stance on nearly every important issue recently, of which none are more important than her embrace of the Manchin/Toomey bill. It’s time for her to come home and get a real job. Baxter IPA for ftw!

Birchbark on May 12, 2013 at 7:49 PM

‘Murika.

Hate to pop your stereotype, Erika, but craft brewers don’t use the term.

AshleyTKing on May 12, 2013 at 7:50 PM

I’m OK with anything that makes Stone Brewery and Heavy Seas cheaper and easier to get hold of.

Sgt Steve on May 12, 2013 at 7:55 PM

This is what senators are worried about — the excise tax on beer?

Liam on May 12, 2013 at 6:42 PM

…they want to keep us drunk!

KOOLAID2 on May 12, 2013 at 7:55 PM

This might be the first worthwhile thing Washington has done in…….. ever? Or at least since 1976 with the last beer tax cut. It’s such a good idea that even Schumer can figure it out!

alchemist19 on May 12, 2013 at 8:03 PM

Bi-partisan? BS.

Craft beer appeals to blue-staters and the “smart growth” crowd which is why you see a guy like Schumer, who normally can’t find a tax he doesn’t like, suddenly so hot to reduce taxes on “craft beer”.

Dreadnought on May 12, 2013 at 6:50 PM

It’s not one’s fault but yours that you don’t like beer that actually tastes good. :-)

alchemist19 on May 12, 2013 at 8:04 PM

Complaints about local property tax incentives, as above, aside, I am glad that any aspect of the Federal beast recognizes that lowering taxes is a logical move for stimulating growth.

And Anheiser and Miller products blow.

M240H on May 12, 2013 at 8:10 PM

Maybe I’m missing something, but why exactly is there an excise tax on beer? Does anyone know the rationale, other than “the government wants more money”?

NorthernCross on May 12, 2013 at 8:19 PM

Why don’t the lawmakers end the 3-tier distribution system instead? That is the real culprit that prevents smaller breweries from getting their beer out there. I live in the midwest and I can’t get Russian River, Dogfish head, and other popular craft breweries because the big distributors don’t want the competition.

Erika, I am disappointed you didn’t focus on the distribution racket and instead this obscure tax cut.

nazo311 on May 12, 2013 at 8:42 PM

States vary a lot too.

AshleyTKing on May 12, 2013 at 8:57 PM

Oh good, my son is brewing beer.

Cindy Munford on May 12, 2013 at 9:02 PM

Maybe I’m missing something, but why exactly is there an excise tax on beer? Does anyone know the rationale, other than “the government wants more money”?

NorthernCross on May 12, 2013 at 8:19 PM

I think it’s a holdover from the prohibition-era Volstead Act.

gryphon202 on May 12, 2013 at 9:47 PM

Love the photo – Three Floyds is one of the best breweries in the country and their Rye Da Tiger and Alpha Klaus are awesome beers.

bound4er on May 12, 2013 at 10:17 PM

I’m OK with anything that makes Stone Brewery and Heavy Seas cheaper and easier to get hold of.

Sgt Steve on May 12, 2013 at 7:55 PM

+1

AshleyTKing on May 12, 2013 at 10:21 PM

I have no problem with rolling back Prohibition-era laws against home-brewing and small-scale brewing like Alabama recently did. Nor do I mind streamlining the bureaucracy for small brewers (where I am, all breweries are classified as “light industrial” and thus have a hard time getting decent zoning space outside of office parks). Even giving special tax treatment to start-ups sounds fine to me, which seems to be what this bill is about.

On the other hand, some places have tried to get too involved. One city out here decided to buy a restaurant space in its downtown, purchase a ton of brewery equipment, and then hand it all over to some random brothers who didn’t know what they were doing. Not surprisingly, that brewery attempt spectacularly failed and the city was left on the very large financial hook. It’s strange that they thought they needed to do that since all around them breweries are popping up left and right, but hey, some politician got to trumpet that they “helped small business in the downtown” (for a bit).

Streamline the regulations, especially for the little guys, and let the free market do its wonderful (and delicious in this case) work.

HayekFriendlyCon on May 12, 2013 at 11:15 PM

Hillary’s going to need a keg or two before what is brewing with Benghazi comes to a head.

profitsbeard on May 12, 2013 at 11:31 PM

As my moniker attests, I’ve been brewing at home for some time. Inexpensive and better than 90% of the biers I can buy. Plus…no tax to the Feds!

BierManVA on May 13, 2013 at 6:10 AM

Excellent news: Bipartisan senators

i don’t know of any bipartisan senators.

sesquipedalian on May 13, 2013 at 6:24 AM

Love the photo – Three Floyds is one of the best breweries in the country and their Rye Da Tiger and Alpha Klaus are awesome beers.

bound4er on May 12, 2013 at 10:17 PM

…and I live a stone’s throw from the brewery. Happy times! Perfect picture.

tdarrington on May 13, 2013 at 7:09 AM

This is a great step, but what we truly need to see our craft beer market “really” flourish is for the government to get out of the distribution mandating business. The government’s forced distribution (3-tier system) plan enables companies like (the owners of) Miller, Busch, Coors, Bud, etc… to have a stranglehold on the competition. It’s government forced monopoly.
The system was established to help the little guy but actually has done the opposite over the last 10-20 years… and while beer drinking in America has never been better… it could actually be better! Just get the government out.

therambler on May 13, 2013 at 7:48 AM

Hmmmm. Is it time to follow the senator’s investments?

Don L on May 13, 2013 at 8:00 AM

“Yeah, what’s wrong with the beer we got?!”

-Alvin Holmes, Alabama State Representative

Nick_Angel on May 13, 2013 at 9:58 AM

HotAirLib on May 12, 2013 at 6:59 PM

I would love to see a streamlined process for lowering all of myriad of tax laws into something coherant and understandable. If this act is including all breweres regardless of size then it isn’t crony capitalism per se – but I would like to see a real effort to study the tax code – see how much streamlining would really cost – look to cut spending along with it,utilize some real non-static costing and come up with something that helps more than just brewers.

Zomcon JEM on May 13, 2013 at 10:42 AM

While I am for the lowering and elimination of many taxes, don’t we have bigger issues to deal with than this?

Klem Kadiddlehopper on May 13, 2013 at 11:11 AM