Earlier this week, Sen. Tammy Baldwin signed on as one of 24 co-sponsors of the “Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce Act” (also known as the “Small BREW Act”). The act, which would lighten the tax burden on craft breweries, was also introduced last year, but never made it out of committee.
The bill, if passed, would reduce the federal excise tax on craft brewers. Currently, craft brewers (which the law currently defines as brewers that produce less than 2 million barrels of beer annually) pay $7 per barrel in federal excise taxes on the first 60,000 barrels produced, and $18 for every additional barrel.
The bill would change the definition of a “craft brewery” to a brewery that produces less than 6 million barrels a year, and change the excise taxes to $3.50 per barrel on the first 60,000, $16 per barrel from 60,000 to 2 million, then $18 per barrel, up to 6 million barrels.
Baldwin estimates these changes would save Wisconsin craft brewers $1.5 million.
“Wisconsin’s brewers have been at the center of our culture and anchors of local communities since our state’s beginning,” Baldwin said in a press release. “They create jobs and reinvest their profits back into their local economies and we need to be investing in them.”
According to the Brewers Association, a national trade group, the economic impact of Wisconsin craft breweries was about $850 million in 2013.
The proposed changes would be the first alterations to the legislative definition of a “small brewer” and its tax rate since 1976, according to Baldwin.
The 2013-2014 Small BREW Act was embroiled in some political drama, as large breweries came out against it, in favor of the “BEER Act,” which would also cut excise taxes on macrobreweries.
The bill is currently sitting in the Committee on Finance. It has not been voted on yet.