Here in Washington, the subject of beer taxation was heavily debated recently as the state faced a budget crisis—a crisis avoided, in part, by increasing beer taxation (though not on craft beer). Whatever your opinion on that matter, you cannot ignore the fact that beer is one of the most highly taxed commodities. Built into each beer you drink are federal excise taxes, state excise taxes, normal sales taxes, and then usually some other kind of beer-specific or alcohol-specific sales tax. The United States Congress currently needs to hear from you regarding two bills pertaining to beer taxes.
Fair and Smart Taxes
While taxes are an inevitable and essential part of our modern society, they should be fair and they should be smart. It is our duty as citizens to, shall we say, help Congress do the right thing. Currently before Congress are two bills that rework the federal excise tax codes as they pertain to breweries.
This isn’t about the taxes that beer drinkers pay directly, it’s about the taxes that brewers pay to ship and sell their product. The nature of the brewing industry has changed vastly in the past thirty years. The tax codes have not. The objective of the current movement in Congress is to update the codes, bringing them inline with the realities of today’s brewing industry. The Washington Beer Blog would like to urge each of you to let Congress know that you support the proposed changes.
Really smart people at places like Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government think that the federal excise tax codes pertaining to beer are not fair or smart. More than that, they argue that revising the tax codes would benefit the ever-increasing number of American craft breweries, helping small breweries to grow their businesses and create new jobs. In the end, they surmise, updating the tax code would actually increase the tax revenues generated by the beer industry by bolstering the overall financial health of the craft beer segment. It’s a win-win situation.
Click here to see our previous posts on this subject, where we discuss the matter in more detail.
Make Your Voice Heard
The Washington Beer Blog is strongly in favor of this effort to rework the federal excise tax codes pertaining to beer. Currently, there are two bills before Congress. In the House of Representatives, HR 4278. In the Senate, S 3339.
If you are represented by Jim McDermott or Dave Reichert, then your reps are already cosponsors. (McDermott and Reichert deserve to get a note of thanks.) Otherwise, your rep is not a cosponsor. Send a note asking why they are not supporting something that would benefit the more than 100 breweries in our state.
In the Senate, neither of our senators are on the list of cosponsors. We ask that you contact Senators Murray and Cantwell and ask them to cosponsor S 3339.
(Cosponsors help get the bill to the floor for a vote. Once there, these bills will very likely pass because they make sense. The hard part is getting them to the floor.)
Contact your representative: Here is a a website that will help you can find and contact your local representative. https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml
The House Small Brewers Caucus
As if all this isn’t enough, you should make sure your representative is a member of the House Small Brewers Caucus.
What is the House Small Brewers Caucus? Here’s the description from their website.
“In order to recognize the important place that America’s small brewers hold in our communities and their unique contributions to our culture and economy, The House of Representatives formed the House Small Brewers Caucus in 2007. The Caucus provides a forum in which Members and staff can learn about the science and art of beer and brewing as well as the relevant business, regulatory and societal issues.”