(WASHINGTON, D.C). – Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) joined several of her colleagues to introduce a bipartisan amendment to ensure the continued growth of Washington state’s craft beverage industry by reducing excise taxes, compliance burdens, and regulations for brewers, cider makers, vintners, and distillers. Amendment #3539, which builds on the Craft Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2015, has been proposed to the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016 (H..R. 636), which is expected to be considered by the Senate in the coming days.
“Craft beverages are an important part of the Washington state economy and culture, and I’m proud to do my part to help this industry expand and create more jobs,” Senator Murray said. “This amendment is good for the Washington state economy and business owners, from brewers and distillers to cider and wine makers, and I am going to keep working until we get it passed into law.”
Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) is the original sponsor, and other cosponsors include Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (R-CO), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Burr (R-NC), Tom Carper (D-DE), Chris Coons (D-DE), Steve Daines (R-MT), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Rob Portman (R-OH), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Jon Tester (D-MT), David Vitter (R-LA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
This amendment is supported by the Washington Brewers Guild and the Washington Wine Institute, alongside many other large and small groups across the nation. In 2014 the brewing industry alone had a national economic impact of more than $253 billion, directly and indirectly employing roughly 1.75 million Americans.
The amendment would make the following improvements to ease burdens that currently prohibit growth of the craft beverage industry:
Reduce burdens for brewers:
- Reduce excise taxes for brewers to provide more cash flow to reinvest in growing their businesses.
- Simplify beer formulation and label approvals by exempting common beer ingredients from the lengthy TTB approval process.
- Increase collaboration between brewers by removing restrictions on tax-free transfers of beer and repealing unnecessary inventory restrictions.
Reduce burdens for vintners:
- Expand wine producer tax credit to increase benefit, cover more wineries, and promote regional growth.
- Expand tolerances on alcohol content and carbonation for certain wines for tax purposes.
Reduce burdens for distillers:
- Establish reduced excise taxes for craft distilleries to help small businesses get off the ground.
- Relax restrictions on tax-free transfers of spirits between distillers.
Reduce compliance and tax burdens for all producers, and improve excise tax administration:
- Exempt beverage producers from complex capitalization rules for aged products and level the playing field between U.S. businesses and their international competitors.
- Expand TTB information sharing to all taxes administered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.