Poll: Two-Thirds of Voters Support Extending Excise Tax Relief for Brewers

Nearly 70% of voters support the continuation of federal excise tax (FET) relief for craft brewers and other alcoholic beverage producers, according to a recent poll.

The survey commissioned by the Beer Institute (BI), a national trade group advocating for the U.S. brewing industry, found that 68% of respondents were in favor of extending the federal excise tax relief that was put in place in 2017, but slated to expire at the end of the year. Quadrant Strategies conducted the survey of 1,000 legal drinking age adults for the BI earlier this month.

The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA) would make permanent the temporary FET relief Congress enacted in 2017 and President Donald Trump signed into law through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Under the current law, brewers who produce fewer than 2 million barrels each year pay $3.50 per barrel in tax for the first 60,000 barrels; after that, the tax increases to $7 per barrel. With no extension, those brewers would double their current tax rate to $7 per barrel across the board beginning January 1.

Larger producers pay $16 per barrel on their first six million barrels and $18 per barrel after that. Those brewers would pay $18 per barrel across the board if the tax relief expires.

Through the end of October, U.S. brewers have produced 139,653,000 taxable barrels, down 1.8% compared to 2018 levels, according to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).

“In 2017, Congress demonstrated a broad vision for tax reform when it passed two years of federal excise tax relief for all brewers and beer importers,” BI president and CEO Jim McGreevy said in a press release. “Today, America’s beer industry is investing in businesses and supporting more than 2.1 million American jobs. Now is the time for Congress to extend this tax relief before the end of the year so the beer industry can continue to innovate, invest in their businesses and provide good-paying jobs in communities across the country.”

Quadrant Strategies asked survey participants to state their age and identify their political beliefs as liberal, moderate or conservative. A majority of each ideological grouping supported the tax relief extension — 66% of respondents who identify as liberal, 63% of respondents who identify as moderate and 75% of respondents who identify as conservative all said they supported extending tax relief for alcohol producers and importers. Nearly three quarters of respondents ages 21 to 38 said they favor extending the cuts.

CBMTRA was introduced in the House of Representatives and referred to that body’s Committee on Ways and Means in February by Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and Mike Kelly (R-Pa.). Of the House’s 435 members, 320 have signed on as co-sponsors, nearly evenly divided across party lines, with 162 Democrats and 158 Republicans.

Nearly 10% of the House bill’s co-sponsors signed on after a day of action promoted by the BI, craft brewers’ trade group the Brewers Association (BA), the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, American Craft Spirits Association, Wine Institute, Wine America, the U.S. Association of Cider Makers and the American Mead Makers Association.

Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Or.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) have introduced a version of the bill to the Senate, which cannot move on it until the House approves its version. In the Senate, 74 co-sponsors support the bill.

Although the last Congressional session of the year is scheduled to end on December 12, President Trump signed a short-term funding bill into effect last week that funds the government through December 20.

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