Sponsors of the bill and the hard cider industry note that some cider is produced in natural ways that lead to higher alcohol content and carbonation levels than is currently allowed under U.S. law.
"Cider making is sometimes closer to an art than a science," Blumenauer said last week. "As the American apple and pear hard cider industry becomes more prominent on the world stage and cider becomes a beverage choice for more Americans' developing palettes, we need to ensure that cideries have every opportunity to expand and meet the needs of this growing market without an unfair tax burden."
According to the United States Association of Cider Makers (USACM), hard cider can have an alcohol content of up to 7 percent before it is treated as wine, which faces higher taxes. Changes in carbonation levels can also prompt decisions to tax cider as champagne.
The bill would increase acceptable carbonation and alcohol levels for hard cider; cider could have 6.4 grams per liter of carbonation and contain up to 8.5 percent alcohol and still be taxed as cider. It would also allow cider to be made from both apples and pears.
"This legislation really is about updating the tax law to reflect the realities in today's cider marketplace," USACM President Mike Beck said Wednesday.
"We are going to work hard with Reps. Blumenauer and Collins to educate other Members about this legislation and our industry's needs so that we can increase our competitiveness, grow our industry and create more jobs. We are hopeful that a Senate companion bill will be introduced soon, and that this legislative change will be made part of any tax legislation that is considered by the Congress."