Looking back on the work that the Brewers Association (and small and independent craft brewers) did in Washington, D.C., during the past year, I am impressed at what we were able to achieve in such a short span of time. The following are my picks for the top three accomplishments of 2015.
The year-end tax extenders package includes favorable reforms related to bonding requirements for small alcohol producers. Specifically, in the case of brewers, it provides that:
- Small brewers which reasonably expect to be liable for less than $1,000 in federal excise taxes for the calendar year, and which were liable for less than $1,000 in such taxes in the preceding year, need only file their taxes once annually (by the “14th day after the last day of the calendar year”);
- Small brewers with excise tax liability between $1,000 and $50,000 are now required to file their excise taxes quarterly; and
- Bonding requirements for small brewers with less than $50,000 in excise tax liability are removed.
The BA started working on this issue with the Senate Finance Committee in February. The goal was to get something passed that would directly help the craft brewing industry, and we succeeded. 92 percent of craft brewers will benefit from these new bonding provisions.
We finished the year with 205 House and 36 Senate members of the Small Brewers Caucuses and became one of the largest special-interest caucuses in the U.S. Congress—but we didn’t stop there. In addition to adding new members, we also educated the Caucus by holding multiple briefings and tastings. This year staff and members of the Caucus had the opportunity to learn about homebrewing, the Tax and Trade Bureau’s labeling practices, and how breweries like New Belgium Brewing Company and The Brooklyn Brewery got their start.
More than 3,000 BA brewery owners and employees contacted their legislators using our email outreach form; close to 200 of you came to Washington to advocate on behalf of the craft brewing community; and countless more of you invited members of Congress and their staff to tour your breweries. Your actions ensured that the BA and craft brewing were part of the conversation in the capitol. Congressional offices reached out to ask our opinion on issues, and the BA was even invited to testify in front of a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee.
Your outreach and efforts this past year helped to grow craft brewing’s political influence across the board. Now it’s time to look to the year ahead.
2016 is an election year, so there will be a shorter legislative calendar and elected officials may spend more time campaigning than legislating—but this offers BA brewers another opportunity to grow their political strength. Members of Congress and their staff will be spending a significant amount of time in their home states and districts. Take this chance to create new relationships and grow the relationships that you already have with your legislators and candidates who are running for office. Attend a town hall or make an appointment to meet them in the district office, or invite them to visit your brewery. Let them know that their constituents care about craft beer.
2015 was a good legislative year for the craft brewing industry, and with your help things will continue to improve in 2016 and 2017!