Regular readers will know that I’ve several times mentioned the fight to reduce federal excise taxes on small spirits producers. That fight continues, and with the recent withdrawal before passage (before a vote, actually) of the American Healthcare Act of 2017, the Trump administration has indicated that it will next turn its attention to tax reform. So things are looking up, right?
I hope so. But to be honest I’m not so sure.
When I last wrote on this topic, the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2017 had 10 co-sponsors in the Senate and 20 in the House. No doubt in large part due to the good work of those within the distilling community as well as the ACSA and ADI, that number has now substantially increased – and today there are 28 co-sponsors (16 democrats and 12 republicans) in the Senate and 109 co-sponsors (62 republicans and 47 democrats) in the House.
So with the good work that’s been done to date, why am I feeling unease?
Simply put, I’m fearful of what will happen if the Act gets lumped into broader discussions concerning tax reform. As it stands now, the Act has strong bipartisan support. If it continues down its congressional journey as a stand-alone piece of legislation, it seems likely that support will only continue to grow.
But what happens if it gets lumped into the broader conversation around tax reform? Will the Act continue to have democratic support if it becomes a small piece in a broader legislative effort aimed at reducing individual, corporate and estate taxes? That seems unlikely. Conversely, if the Act becomes part of such a broader republican initiative, is that larger initiative likely to pass? Well if the experience with the AHA is any indication, it is possible that the republican leadership is sufficiently fragmented and conflicted as to be unable to deliver the goods.
So what’s to be done? First of all, call your senators and representatives.
I’ve pasted a handy map above showing which states do (and do not) yet have senators co-sponsoring the Act. If you care about the issue and note that your state isn’t yet represented (or isn’t fully represented) – you might think of giving them a call. And I’ll provide a running list of the specific Senators and Representatives who are signed on to the bill here at HoochLaw for your reference.
When you ask for their support for the Act, consider whether you want also to ask them to support the consideration of the Act separate and apart from the broader tax reform legislation soon to be unveiled. I say “consider” because this really is roll of the dice. If the Act gets lumped into the broader tax discussion – and the republican leadership is able to pass that legislation – then the Act is well served by being part of the process. But if they’re not, then having the support of democrats on the stand-alone Act would probably be very helpful.