Beer industry poll finds majority back tax break for alcohol producers

Beer industry poll finds majority back tax break for alcohol producers
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Sixty-eight percent of Americans want Congress to permanently reduce federal excise taxes for alcohol producers, according to a Beer Institute poll released on Wednesday.

The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, which was included in the 2017 Republican tax bill, expires at the end of 2019. It reduced federal excise taxes for a range of alcohol producers, such as brewers, winemakers, distillers and even importers.

The bill has broad backing in both chambers and trade groups pushing for it are confident it will get across the finish line by year-end.

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The industry poll found it has broad support among Americans, regardless of ideology.

Seventy-five percent of conservative voters support it, 63 percent of moderate voters, and 66 percent of liberal voters.

“Once again, beer unites America in an interesting way. When you have so much contention on Capitol Hill on other issues, it's nice to see one issue where consumers and policy makers agree,” Jim McGreevy, president and CEO of the Beer Institute, told The Hill.

Voters aged 21 to 38 are the most supportive demographic with 74 percent supporting making the tax break permanent. Among young voters supporting it, 81 percent are conservative, 68 are moderate and 71 percent are liberal.

“I think those are voters that grew up in a society that had a lot of choice in terms of consumer products. Beer is giving people a lot of choice now and I think young people, legal drinking age, appreciate what the beer industry is giving them in terms of products and so they will see this as a good policy to extend,” McGreevy said.

If the tax rates aren’t extended, large and regional beer suppliers will see their excise tax payments go up by an average of 4 percent while 99 percent of U.S. breweries will see their excise taxes double, according to data from the Beer Institute.

More than 2,000 new brewers have opened since the lower federal excise tax was enacted.

“Those 2,000 businesses have never known an excise tax regime that’s different than the one in place today,” McGreevy said. “The growth of small breweries has been explosive in the last ten years but particularly in the last three, and I think that’s important to note.”

Lawmakers have until the end of the year to extend the tax break.