Murray: No Unfair Fees on Wine Industry

May 03 2006

Senator tells TTB Administrator that she will fight the Administration’s effort to tax Washington state wineries and wine grape growers

(Washington, D.C.) – In a meeting with Alcohol, Tobacco, Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) Administrator John Manfreda, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today made clear that she will fight the Administration’s inclusion of unfair user fees on the wine industry.

The fees, proposed by the Bush Administration under the TTB, include filing fees for Certificate of Label Approvals (COLAs), proposed formulas, and permit applications under the assumption that the wine industry should pay for services it receives from TTB. These fees would be a particular burden for small wineries who already pay fees that cover these TTB services – in essence taxing them for services for which they already pay.

“I told the Administrator that these fees are essentially a tax on economic growth for our state and I told him to tell the Administration that I will fight them every step of the way,” Senator Murray said.

Last year, as the ranking Democrat on the Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development and the Judiciary (TTHUD) Committee, Murray succeeded in defeating the Administration-proposed fees. Since the Administration has once again requested inclusion of the fees within their budget, Murray will once again use her position to fight for Washington state wineries and wine grape growers.

“Washington state vineyards and wineries are providing jobs for communities that have struggled. They are bringing tourists to rural regions of our state and they are helping our economy,” Murray said. “We need to invest in the tools and resources to help our wine industry grow, not add fees that stifle progress, economic growth and tourism.”

Murray also talked to Administrator Manfreda about the importance of the wine industry to Washington state, pointing out that Washington has:

  • 400 wineries,

  • 300 wine grape growers and

  • the Washington wine industry employs 11,000 people.

As a key member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a member of the Congressional Wine Caucus, Senator Murray has helped secure millions of dollars in research and infrastructure improvements to strengthen Washington’s wine industry. She has also used her position as ranking Democrat on the TTHUD Committee to widen U.S. Highway 12 which has helped to increase tourism in southeast Washington.