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Beer, wine, and spirits industries toast passage of GOP tax bill

122017 beer tax reform nava photo
Andrew Cliburn opens a bottle of champagne at Current Fish and Oyster Saturday, July 1, 2017, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Among the provisions in the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, included in the Republican tax bill, is the reduction of federal excise tax rates on beer, wine, and distilled spirits. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Trade organizations representing the beer, wine, and distilled spirits industries celebrated the passage of the Republican tax reform bill by Congress on Wednesday, noting that a provision reducing federal excise taxes on the production of these alcoholic beverages would propel growth in their industries.

The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, included in the Republican tax bill, lowers the federal excise tax on beer from $7 to $3.50 per barrel on the first 60,000 barrels for brewers producing less than 2 million barrels per year through 2019.

The Brewers Association, a trade organization representing "small and independent craft brewers," says the provision will save small brewers more than $142 million per year and "will allow America’s small brewers — who are manufacturers and entrepreneurs — to reinvest in their businesses, expand their operations, and hire more workers."

The Beer Institute, which represents American "brewers, beer importers, and beer industry suppliers," thanked Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., on Twitter, as well as Reps. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., and Mike Kelly, R-Pa., for their leadership in the bipartisan effort to include federal excise tax relief in the tax bill.

Also celebrating the tax reform bill's passage were groups representing the wine and distilled spirits industries. The Distilled Spirits Council, which represents "producers and marketers of distilled spirits in the United States," issued a press release saying the legislation "reduces the federal excise tax on distilled spirits producers for the first time since the Civil War, which will enable the more than 1,300 operating distilleries nationwide to re-invest in their businesses and stimulate job growth in their communities," and "creates a more equitable tax structure for distillers, brewers, winemakers and importers of beverage alcohol by equalizing the federal excise tax on spirits, beer and wine for the first 100,000 proof gallons."

The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act creates a tiered excise tax rate for distilled spirits, a shift from the flat $13.50 rate. The rate of tax is lowered to $2.70 per proof gallon on the first 100,000 proof gallons of distilled spirits, $13.34 for all proof gallons in excess of that amount but less than 22,130,000 proof gallons, and $13.50 for amounts greater.

And not to be left out, the American wine industry also applauded the inclusion of excise tax relief in the tax bill awaiting President Trump's signature. The Wine Institute, which "represents more than 1,000 California wineries and affiliated organizations responsible for 85 percent of the nation's wine production," issued a press release calling the tax bill "the first reduction in wine excise taxes in over 80 years and only the second reduction in the nation’s history." The group also said the legislation would grow wineries across the nation, noting "most of which are small and family owned."

According to the Wine Institute, the legislation allows wineries to claim a credit of between $.535 and $1 per gallon on the first 750,000 gallons of production, allows sparkling wine to qualify for the credit for the first time, increases the Alcohol by Volume allowed for lower tax rates, and increases the carbonation allowed in certain low alcohol wines for the lower tax rate.