Let’s get one thing out of the way from the get go: I enjoy a good beer. And more often than not, a good beer tends to come from a craft brewery.
So, I might be a little bit (little bit) biased when it comes to the Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce Act – cleverly named by our legislators so that it spells out Small BREW Act. The Act is known in the Senate as S. 534 and was introduced by Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Mike Crapo (R-ID). S. 534 would reduce the small brewer tax rate on the first 60,000 barrels by 50%, to $3.50/barrel, and institute a new rate of $16.00/barrel on production above 60,000 barrels up to 2 million barrels. To qualify as a small brewer, annual production must be 6 million barrels or less.
The companion bill in the house, H.R. 1236, was introduced by Representatives Jim Gerlach (R-PA) and Richard E. Neal (D-MA). It, too, would enact a graduated beer excise tax rate of $3.50 and $16.00. Rep. Gerlach said about the bill:
With the economy sputtering, Congress must create conditions that allow small businesses to become more competitive, protect existing jobs and create new employment opportunities.
Pro business and pro beer? Who would vote no on that? So far, though, the bill is in the early stages. It now goes to the House Committee on Ways and Means.
Brewers and beer drinkers alike seem to be pleased with the legislation. Charlie Papazian, president of the Brewers Association, had this to say about it:
Small craft brewers are growing, creating jobs and contributing in small and big ways to the recovery of the American economy. The bipartisan effort by Congressmen Gerlach and Neal is a strong message most Americans will raise a toast to and is indicative of the grassroots community spirit with which Americans are embracing to work towards economic recovery and sustain it for the future.
Papazian then added these pretty interesting statistics:
The 1,700+ small American breweries account for about five percent of all the beer enjoyed in the United States and 50 percent of brewery jobs. The bipartisan support the Small BREW Act engenders will help assure a positive impact on agricultural, manufacturing, hospitality and distribution jobs for the future.
Wow? Really? 50% of brewery jobs? That’s pretty significant.
One of our favorite breweries, Victory Brewing in Downingtown, PA, agreed via twitter that the bill was a good move for breweries and the economy, generally:
Reducing the excise tax rate should stimulate investment & increase production, rendering the move revenue neutral down the road.
I think we can all say “Cheers!” to that.