Beer tax reform in Tennessee is but a signature away from becoming law.
The state House of Representatives today gave its near-unanimous endorsement of the so-called Beer Tax Reform Act of 2013, voting to approve it by an 87-2 margin. The action follows Monday’s 30-1 approval in the Tennessee Senate.
The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Bill Haslam for his signature.
The Beer Tax Reform Act of 2013 seeks to reform the 17% beer wholesale tax in Tennessee, which contributes to the state having the highest beer taxes in the nation.
Instead of the present 17% tax on the wholesale price, the bill would revise it to instead impose a volume tax of $35.60 per barrel of 31 gallons of beer sold. The tax upon barrels containing more or less than 31 gallons would be taxed at a proportionate rate.
The “Fix the Beer Tax” coalition, which has been lobbying for passage of the law, is being spearheaded by the Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild and Tennessee Malt Beverage Association.
Read more about today’s vote on commercialappeal.com.
Also, read the coalition’s press release below:
Tax Reform Tapped for Tennessee
Tennessee General Assembly passes Beer Tax Reform Act of 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee General Assembly voted Wednesday to approve the Beer Tax Reform Act of 2013. The near unanimous vote in both the House and Senate only added to the excitement surrounding a campaign deemed a legislative sensation.
The reform proposal to fix the highest beer tax in the nation has drawn statewide support from every level of Tennessee’s beer industry, from large brewers such as Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors to craft brewers and beer wholesalers. As the spotlight heated up on state lawmakers, it also caught the support and attention of a national audience.
“This tax reform makes Tennessee more appealing to business,” said Rich Foge, president of the Tennessee Malt Beverage Association. “It will attract new brewers to the state, as well as help those already here to expand and create additional jobs.”
Senate Bill 422 and House Bill 999, sponsored by Representative Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) and Representative Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), will convert Tennessee’s outdated price-based tax to a more business-friendly volume based tax. Currently, Tennessee has the highest beer tax rate in the nation, propelling higher and higher every year with inflation.
“When it came down to it,” said Senator Ken Yager (R- Harriman) on the Senate floor Monday, “this vote was about whether or not Tennessee would become competitive in one of the country’s fastest-growing industries.”
Tennessee leads all other states’ beer tax rate by a 12 percent margin. In comparison to our neighbors, Arkansas’ tax per barrel rings up at $7.51 and Mississippi’s at $13.23, while Tennessee tops out at a whopping $37 per barrel.
“In a historically low tax state, Tennessee’s 1950s era triple layer beer tax has been no friend to businesses,” said Sexton. “Whether you are a small brewery or a large scale operation, the tax has hindered expansion and recruitment as well as punished growth. It was simply time for a change in the tax structure and everyone involved is honored to have enjoyed such sweeping support.”
Since the bill’s introduction, more than 2,000 supporters of the grass-roots Fix the Beer Tax Campaign rallied in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis and Tri-Cities, resulting each time in a flurry of social media and support from local businesses.
“This is also a victory for Tennessee consumers who will benefit from more selection in the marketplace as more beer brands become available as a direct result of this new tax structure,” Foge added.
The bill will now head to the Governor’s desk for a signature, as the statewide sound of clinking glasses swells in a toast to Tennessee’s brighter future.