Senators introduce bill to reduce taxes on craft beer

Currently, brewers producing less than 2 million barrels a year pay an excise tax of $7 per barrel on the first 60,000 barrels they brew, and $18 per barrel on every barrel thereafter.

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The Small BREW Act would create a new excise tax rate structure that helps small breweries. The rate for the smallest breweries would be $3.50 per barrel on the first 60,000 barrels. For production between 60,001 and 2 million barrels, the rate would be $16 per barrel. After that, the rate would be $18 per barrel. Breweries that produce less than 6 million barrels a year would qualify for the new tax rates.

Cardin said he was introducing the bill now because next week is American Craft Beer Week.

The bill would cost the federal government more than $30 million a year in lost revenue, but Cardin said the government would make it up in new payroll taxes and taxes from people buying more craft beer since prices could go down. Cardin argued that his bill would help stimulate the economy by creating more jobs.

"While some people may think this is a bill about beer, it is really about jobs," Cardin said. "Small brewers are small business owners in communities in each and every state across the country. … As the craft beer industry grows so, too, does the demand for American-grown barley and hops and American-made brewing, bottling, canning and other equipment."

Cardin said there are more than 2,000 small breweries within the United States, and he called for the government to invest in the growing industry in order to help the economy.

"Because of differences in economies of scale, small brewers have higher costs for raw materials, production, packaging and market entry compared to larger, well-established multi-national competitors," Cardin said. "Adjusting the excise tax rate would provide small brewers with an additional $67 million each year they could use to start or expand their businesses on a regional or national scale."

But S. 917 isn’t the only beer bill being considered. Large beer manufacturers are pushing their own bill, the BEER Act, which would reduce rates for all brewers. Reps. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) and Ron Kind (D-Wis.) introduced the BEER Act in the House on Thursday.

Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Mo Cowan (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Angus King (I-Maine) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) are co-sponsoring the Small BREW Act.