Local breweries welcome beer tax elimination

DENVER - Local breweries are welcoming a proposal that would eliminate the federal excise tax on beer creation.

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) introduced the bill on Wednesday. It would reduce excise taxes for breweries, a measure he said is aimed at creating more brewery-based jobs.

"We estimate it would save us an additional $145,000. So for a small business that's pretty significant," said Anna Nadasdy with Great Divide Brewing.

Great Divide says it would use the money to hire 3-4 additional employees.

"Colorado is one of the top beer-producing states in the country, and our innovative brewers have rightly earned Colorado as a reputation as the Napa Valley of beer," Udall said in a news release. "These aren't your dad's beers, and we shouldn't discourage brewers from growing their businesses with an outdated excise tax."

The bill - called the Brewers Excise and Economic Relief (BEER) Act of 2013 - is co-sponsored by Senators Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), David Vitter (R-La.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.). Udall and Bennet proposed an identical bill in 2011, which was later referred to the Committee on Finance with no further action.

Under its proposed measures, beer excise taxes would be reduced from:

  • $7 to $0 per barrel for brewers producing under 15,000 barrels a year
  • $7 to $3.50 per barrel for brewers producing between 15,001 and 60,000 barrels per year
  • $18 to $9 for brewers producing more than 60,000 barrels per year

"For small brewers, this could be pretty significant. The excise tax would be reduced [for us] from $7 per barrel to $3.50 per barrel," Nadadsy said.

If the bill is passed, it would mean that 90 percent of the licensed breweries in Colorado would not pay federal excise taxes.

Forty percent of a beer's cost goes toward federal, state and local taxes. The average American beer drinker earns less $50,000 a year.

"My bipartisan bill would support established brewers, emerging craft brewers and many agriculture, manufacturing and business service sectors that benefit from our strong breweries," Udall said in a news release.


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