Since mid-2015 there have been four bills written to reform the federal excise taxes paid by brewers in the U.S:
(chronological order of referral to Committee)
Current Beer Tax Info (Information from the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau)
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"GovTrack automatically collects legislative information from a variety of governmental and non-governmental sources. This page is sourced primarily from Congress.gov, the official portal of the United States Congress. Congress.gov is generally updated one day after events occur, and so legislative activity shown here may be one day behind. Data via the congress project."
Small BREW Act (Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce Act) (H.R. 232, S. 375)
"In the case of a brewer who produces not more than 6,000,000 barrels of beer during the calendar year, the per barrel rate of tax imposed by this section shall be--
Fair BEER Act (Fair Brewers Excise and Economic Relief Act) (H.R. 767, S. 807)
"A tax is hereby imposed on all beer brewed or produced, and removed for consumption or sale, within the United States, or imported into the United States during the calendar year. Such tax shall be--
Craft Beverage Bond Simplification Act of 2015 (H.R. 2238, S. 904)
"This bill allows taxpayers who are liable for not more than $50,000 per year in excise taxes on distilled spirits, wine, or beer to file and pay such taxes quarterly without the requirement to post a bond covering the operations and withdrawals of such distilled spirits, wines, or beer. The bill also allows such a taxpayer who reasonably expects to have a tax liability of not more than $1,000 per year and who was liable for not more than $1,000 in taxes in the preceding calendar year to file and pay such taxes annually rather than quarterly."
Craft Beverage Modernization & Tax Reform Act of 2015 (H.R. 2903, S. 1562)
As you can see, the Craft Beverage Modernization & Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA) is the most comprehensive of the bills presented and also covers all craft beverages (beer, wine, and distilled spirits) unlike the others that just cover beer production. It would also legalize home distilling which is currently a felony that is punishable by up to 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
There has been a big fight between the Small BREW Act and the Fair BEER Act in that the Small BREW Act is aimed at helping small, independent, U.S.-based breweries while the Fair BEER Act will not only help the small breweries in the Small BREW Act but also give tax relief to the larger beer manufacturers as well as importers.
The Small BREW Act has been fully endorsed by the Brewer's Association as can be read in an article from 2015. The Fair BEER Act has been endorsed by the Beer Institute (supports both large and small breweries and distributors).
These bills have gained a lot of attention in the craft beer industry and more recently due to the number of cosponsors one of the bills has picked up. I recently read an article from the Brewer's Association in regards to the Craft Beverage Modernization & Tax Reform Act that showed a lot of optimism for the bill as it has garnered support from 51 out of the 100 U.S. Senators as well as support from 284 of the 435 members of the House of Representatives! All-in-all, this specific bill has cosponsors from 63% of Congress. But will it become law anytime soon? Remember, in order for a bill to become law it must be passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate and then be signed by the President.
While 63% of support from Congress since it only takes a simple majority (218/435 Representatives + 51/100 Senators) to get a bill out of Congress. While it currently has majority support, it has yet to be voted on in the House. Here are the more detailed steps of a Bill becoming law.
What is interesting to note from govtrack.us is that they use statistics collected since 2012 to determine the likelihood of a Bill being passed into law. In the case of the Craft Beverage Modernization & Tax Reform Act govtrack.us only gives the bill a "1% chance of being enacted". This very small chance was given due to the text of the bill when compared to similarly written bills.
Don't count it out yet though! As Lloyd Christmas once said..."So, you're telling me there's a chance?!"
If this is a bill you would like to see get passed into law then it is our responsibility to voice our opinions to our state's Congressmen and women! Currently, of the 27 U.S. Representatives of Florida only 11 of them have cosponsored the CBMTRA and NEITHER U.S. Senator from Florida (Bill Nelson & Marco Rubio) has cosponsored the bill yet. By clicking on the links in this paragraph you will find ways to contact the Florida Congressmen and women!
I will be following this bill in both forms (H.R. 2903 & S. 1562) with these "widgets" below provided by govtrack.us!
Let me know what you think of the bills, especially the Craft Beverage Modernization & Tax Reform Act!