03.20.15

Baldwin Stands Up for Wisconsin Brewers with the Fair BEER Act

Legislation Reforms Federal Beer Tax to Boost Wisconsin Breweries

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin introduced the Fair Brewers Excise and Economic Relief Act of 2015 (Fair BEER Act) to comprehensively reform the federal beer tax imposed on brewers and help boost Wisconsin’s breweries. The Fair BEER Act will promote further growth in the industry and encourage continued investment and job creation through broad excise tax reforms.

“Our breweries are vital to our state’s Made In Wisconsin economy and our heritage,” said Senator Baldwin. “Wisconsin beer makers not only brew famous lagers, they create jobs and spur investment in communities throughout the state. I am proud to support bipartisan legislation that will give Wisconsin businesses the ability to continue to thrive and hire more hardworking Wisconsinites.”

“We deeply appreciate the support we received from lawmakers in the Senate to introduce this bill. The Fair BEER Act is important for reforming a hidden tax that most beer drinkers don’t even know they pay,” said Jim McGreevy, president and CEO of the Beer Institute. “This legislation is growing support on both sides of the aisle and in both houses of Congress because it offers fair reform of the federal beer tax, but it reaches that reform without completely changing the industry structure.”

Under the Fair BEER Act, all brewers and beer importers would pay a graduated scale of federal beer excise tax. The first 7,143 barrels would not be subject to an excise tax. Barrels 7,144 to 60,000 would have a $3.50 per barrel tax; barrels 60,001 to 2 million would be taxed at $16 per barrel; and at $18 per barrel tax would be put on every barrel above 2 million. Under current law, small brewers are defined as those which produce up to 2 million barrels, and are taxed at $7/barrel on the first 60,000 barrels and $18 on every barrel thereafter. Current law imposes an $18/barrel federal beer tax on all suppliers of more than 2 million barrels annually.

By offering tax reform across the category, from pennies on the barrel for major suppliers to an $18/barrel tax break for the smallest brewers, the Fair BEER Act supports brewers of all sizes, from the smallest brewpubs to the biggest job creators. The Fair BEER Act also serves to fix a significant policy issue around trade by protecting small brewers from potentially losing their tax relief.