Senate Works to Lower Wine Excise Taxes (April 13 Update)

The amendment was dropped from consideration on the bill. We will be considering other legislative options with our alcohol industry coalition partners.

Craft Beverage Reform and Tax Modernization Act Introduced as Amendment to FAA Bill

by Michael Kaiser

4.7.16

Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) have introduced the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA) as an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill. The FAA, like any independent federal agency, is required to be reauthorized every few years by Congress in order to be fully funded. Often times, other policy items (or riders) are added by amendment to an unrelated bill in order to secure passage. The FAA reauthorization is currently being debated in the Senate and could be voted on as early as next week.

As we reported last year, the CBMTRA is a comprehensive alcohol excise tax reform bill containing tax provisions for every alcohol commodity. WineAmerica was neutral on the bill as originally written (see our initial analysis here), but worked over the course of the Summer and Fall of 2015 to secure an agreement that was more beneficial to the American wine industry. The bill was close to being added to the FY 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill but that effort fell short at the last minute. The bill has now been revived this past week.

The specific provisions for wine are as follows:

Expands Tax Credits for All Wineries

Under present law, wine is subject to an excise tax of between $1.07 and $3.40 per gallon, based on alcohol content and carbonation level. Qualifying small domestic wineries producing 250,000 wine gallons or less are eligible for a tax credit (Small Producer Tax Credit) generally equal to 90 cents per gallon on the first 100,000 gallons produced, with that benefit phasing out between 150,000 gallons and 250,000 gallons. This provision removes the phase out and replaces the credit with a new tiered credit system for wine produced in the U.S. or imported as follows:

  • 1.00 credit for the first 30,000 wine gallons produced
  • $0.90 credit for the next 100,000 wine gallons produced (30,001 to 130,000)
  • $0.535 for the next 620,000 wine gallons produced (130,001 to 750,000)
  • All wine produced over 750,000 will be taxed at the regular rate.
  • In addition, this provision removes the existing prohibition against claiming the credit for naturally sparkling wines.

Expands the Alcohol Threshold for Table Wine

Under current law, still wine is taxed at different rates based on alcohol content. Still wine containing not more than 14% alcohol by volume is taxed at $1.07. Still wine above 14% and less than 21% alcohol by volume is taxed at $1.57 per gallon. It is important to note that for labeling purposes alcohol content in wine may vary from the stated amount within certain tolerances, however no such tolerances exist for tax purposes. The CBMTRA would provide that wines up to 16% alcohol by volume qualify for the $1.07 tax rate, raising the threshold for table wine from 14% to 16%.

Increases Carbonation Tolerance Levels for Low Alcohol Wines

Current law provides a tolerance for still wine of 0.392 gram of carbon dioxide per hundred milliliters of wine, which is generally taxed at $1.07 per wine gallon. Wines exceeding this limitation are taxed as “sparkling wine” at either $3.30 or $3.40 per wine gallon. The CBMTRA would increase that tolerance to 0.64 gram of carbon dioxide per hundred milliliters of wine for wines produced primarily from grape or solely from honey and water (mead), which do not contain any other fruit and contains no more than 8.5% alcohol by volume.

WineAmerica supports the passage of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reduction Act. This is the first time wine, beer and spirits have all been supportive of the same federal tax reform package. We commend Senators Wyden and Blunt for introducing the CBMTRA as an amendment to the FAA reauthorization bill and look forward to working with them and our industry partners to ensure passage in the Senate and then turn our focus to the House of Representatives.

 

***

Questions? Contact Michael Kaiser, Director of Public Affairs, mkaiser@wineamerica.org.

WineAmerica is the national voice the American wine industry. Based in Washington, D.C., WineAmerica represents wineries in 43 states and leads a coalition of state and regional wine and grape associations.  As an industry leader, WineAmerica encourages the dynamic growth and development of American wineries and winegrowing through the advancement and advocacy of sound public policy

Circular New Logo (1) (1)

 

Change to Bond Filing Saves Small Wineries $1,000 a Year

New Tax Filing Changes for Wineries Coming in 2017

As we reported on late last year, the Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill several provisions that impacted the wine industry. One of the provisions will drastically change how many small wineries will file their federal excise tax.

Currently alcohol producers liable for not more than $50,000 per year in federal excise taxes to file and pay such taxes on a monthly basis. The new law allows for those wineries to now file and pay their taxes on a quarterly basis, rather than by month. Additionally, those producers liable for not more than $1,000 per year may pay taxes annually, rather than quarterly. The provision also exempts such producers from IRS bonding requirements.

What that means is that wineries that are liable for $50,000 or less in federal excise taxes will be exempt from the requirement to file a bond covering operations or withdrawals of wines for non-industrial use. This will be a saving of $1,000 per year for most American wineries. TTB is in the process of writing the new regulations for both of these tax provisions and they will be implemented on January 1, 2017.

WineAmerica worked to secure passage of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill which included this provision, as well as the increased funding for the label approval program at TTB. This is just one example of the work that WineAmerica does in Washington, DC that benefits the entire American wine industry.

Reach out to Michael Kaiser, Director of Public Affairs here at WineAmerica with any questions. mkaiser@wineamerica.org

WineAmerica is the national voice the American wine industry. Based in Washington, D.C., WineAmerica represents wineries in 43 states and leads a coalition of state and regional wine and grape associations.  As an industry leader, WineAmerica encourages the dynamic growth and development of American wineries and winegrowing through the advancement and advocacy of sound public policy.

Congress Approves Omnibus Appropriations Bill

Includes COOL Repeal and Increased TTB Funding

Happy Holidays from all of us at WineAmerica. We had a very productive and successful year and we look forward to 2016. We will be back in the new year with a full slate of work on such issues as music licensing requirements and federal excise tax reform.

Congress wrapped up their work for the year today with the passage of the Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, sending it to the President’s desk for final signature. The bill fully funds the federal government until September 30, 2016. The bi-partisan agreement features several provisions relevant to the American wine industry.

  • TTB Funding: The bill features $106,439,000 in appropriations funding for TTB. This is $5,000,000 more than last fiscal year, with that money dedicated to label and formula approval.
  • COOL Repeal: The bill repeals the mandatory country of origin labeling requirements for certain cuts of beef and pork. The repeal of the COOL rule will protect the American wine industry from costly tariffs placed on wine exported into Canada and Mexico.
  • Tax Filing Requirements: Alcohol producers liable for not more than $50,000 per year in federal excise taxes to file and pay such taxes on a quarterly basis, rather than by month. Additionally, those producers liable for not more than $1,000 per year may pay taxes annually, rather than quarterly. The provision also exempts such producers from IRS bonding requirements.
  • Definition of Hard Cider: The provision defines hard cider for purposes of alcohol excise taxes as a wine with an alcohol content of between 0.5 percent and 8.5 percent alcohol by volume, with a carbonation level that does not exceed 6.4 grams per liter, which is derived primarily from apples, apple juice concentrate, pears, or pear juice concentrate, in combination with water. The previous alcohol content limit for hard cider was 0.5 percent to 7 percent.
  • Market Access Funding: The bill fully funds the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) at $200 million.  MAP funds are key for states expanding their wine sales into foreign markets.

If you have any questions about these provisions or any other part of the bill, please contact Michael Kaiser, Director of Public Affairs at mkaiser@wineamerica.org.