News from Tennessee’s Fix the Beer Tax campaign

Hey y’all, here’s a little news on the TN Fix the Beer Tax movement from Linus Hall, founder of Yazoo Brewing and President of the Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild. This is a big deal, folks. TN’s beer taxes are ridiculous.

Hi all,

First, thank you for your support!  I wanted to give you an update on the Guild’s efforts to reform beer taxes in TN this year.  When we formed the Guild, we all realized that the number one issue keeping a great craft beer culture in Tennessee from flourishing was our unenviable status as having the highest beer taxes in the country.  These taxes make it difficult for small breweries to start and thrive, and keep other craft brewers from distributing in our state.

We have a bill in both the TN House and Senate – SB0422 by Sen Kelsey of Germantown, and HB999 by Rep Sexton.  The language of the bill is what is called a “caption” bill in the legislature – the language addresses the double-taxation of the federal and state excise tax by the state wholesale tax.  Our intent, however, is to convert the 17% wholesale tax into a flat excise tax, based not on the wholesale price of the beer but on its volume. 

By reforming the tax to one based on volume, we would achieve two things: first, beer taxes would no longer rise due to inflation.  Revenues would rise if beer sales volume increased, but not if brewers had to raise their prices due to rising raw material costs.  Right now, the 17% tax acts like an inflation multiplier, turning modest price increases at the brewery level into huge jumps in the final price.

Second, by fixing the taxes by volume, the same amount of tax would be taken out, regardless of the price of the beer.  The tax on a six-pack of craft beer would be the same as a six-pack of cheaper mass-market beers.

We have had a number of rallies to help educate legislators about the tax and to show them the public support for reform, in Nashville, Memphis, and Knoxville.  The big crowds they drew, as well as all the positive press we have received, has had a definite impact on state legislators.  We now have six co-sponsors of the Senate bill and nine co-sponsors of the House bill.  We need your help, however, to keep up the pressure.  Please visit www.fixthebeertax.com to find an easy-to-use app for writing your legislators, based on your zip code.  Write your legislator and tell them to fix the beer tax!  And please, forward this email on to other friends interested in growing Tennessee’s craft beer culture.  Fixing this tax is the number one thing we can do to support local brewers and attract other great beers into the state.  Thanks again for your support!

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