No matter their personal opinion on the sweeping overall tax reform passed in December, one bright spot for craft beverage producers was inclusion of the bipartisan Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA) in the larger legislation. Trade organizations in all alcohol beverage industries worked together to move the bill forward, and CBMTRA was supported by more than two-thirds of House members and a majority in the Senate.

When it passed, advocacy organizations across the industry released statements praising the achievement. Bob Pease, president and CEO of the Brewers Association, called it “a monumental day for small and independent craft brewers.” Mark Shilling, president of American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA), concurred: “This is the largest legislative victory for our industry in modern history.”

CBMTRA recalibrates the federal excise tax structure for the nation’s small and independent alcohol beverage producers, lowering tax burdens and, in some cases, eliminating the bi-weekly TTB filing and bonding requirements. It also addresses different regulatory needs of each beverage category with an eye toward job creation in each sector.

“These changes will allow our member wineries to further invest in their businesses, which, in turn, generates substantial benefits for local communities in the form of jobs, tax revenue, and support for the hospitality industry,” said Steve Lohr, CEO of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines and chairman of Wine Institute. Both Pease and Shilling echoed the sentiment, predicting the tax breaks would encourage small producers to expand operations, invest in equipment and infrastructure, and hire additional employees.

ACSA Executive Director Margie A.S. Lehrman praised the efforts of all who came together for the cause: “On this historic occasion, we proudly celebrate with our friends within the beer, wine, and spirits industry who’ve helped rally support for this critical legislation.”