So, you want to help South Carolina brewers? No, it’s not time to start lobbying for passage of the pint law. Although, the time for that will be coming very soon. But there’s also another way that you can help lessen the taxes on our local breweries. And you can do it by drinking beer, well sort of.
Next month, a piece of bipartisan legislation will be introduced in Congress called the Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce Act or the Small BREW Act. Bipartisan legislation? That exists? Well, yes. Yes, it does. And honestly, no matter what your political persuasion, if we can’t all agree on beer, then what are we doing?
Ok. So, what does this bill actually do? Well, if passed, the excise taxes that small breweries have to pay would be essentially cut in half, which would help both brewery and job growth in South Carolina. What’s an excise tax? It’s an indirect tax paid on a specific good or product. The tax is collected by the producer or retailer, and not paid directly by the consumer. Often, the tax is included in the price of the product. Gasoline is a good example. Beer is another.
Let’s break it down. Under the current federal law, small breweries (that produce less than 2 million barrels a year) pay a $7 excise tax for each of its first 60,000 barrels produced. If a brewery produces more than 60,000 barrels, it pays $18 per barrel in excise tax. Who produces less than 2 million barrels? Think New Belgium and Sierra Nevada. If passed, the legislation would cut those rates to $3.50 and $16, respectively.
Why is this important? Because all South Carolina are small breweries in this context. Nobody produces more than 2 million barrels and even the biggest ones – RJ Rockers and Thomas Creek – don’t produce anywhere close to 60,000 barrels. RJ Rockers does about 7,500 and Thomas Creek about 18,000. Let me say that another way: all South Carolina breweries would have their excise tax rate cut in half. And that’s also important because South Carolina breweries pay some of the highest amount in excise taxes of anyone in the United States. That’s right. Only a handful of other states pay more.
If you’d like to view a previously filed version of the bill, then head here: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr1236/text
If South Carolina breweries could get these kinds of tax savings, then that would be be a huge stimulant to the industry in this state. More breweries might be encouraged to start up. More money could be allocated to buying locally grown ingredients. More jobs could be created. More beer could be made. That’s more local beer that you get to drink!
South Carolina has 2 Senators and 7 Congressmen. None sponsored this legislation the last time around. Zero. Nada. Nil. Let’s try to change that this time around and give our local brewers a chance to grow. So, keep drinking local beer. And call or email about the bill. That helps also.