ACSA’s Government Affairs Committee, in conjunction with its lobbyist on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., works tirelessly to promote a sound business climate for the craft spirits producer. Its focus was on the reduction of the onerous Federal Excise Tax (FET), with a mantra to provide parity with beer and wine. In December 2017, a short victory lap was enjoyed as substantial provisions of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA) was passed. On January 1, 2018, craft distillers began paying a reduced FET from $13.50 down to $2.70 per proof gallon up to the first 100,000 pg. On December 27, 2020, the President signed the CBMTRA as part of an omnibus and stimulus package, giving the country’s 2,200 craft spirits producers much-needed, permanent tax relief and parity with their counterparts in beer and wine, who have enjoyed lower rates for many years. Federal excise tax (FET) reform has been ACSA’s top legislative priority, and the President’s signing marks a major victory for the distilled spirits industry. In addition to the hardships the industry faces as it crawls back from distillery closures due to COVID, distillers faced a 400 percent tax hike come January 1, 2021 without legislation.
Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is a bureau under the Department of the Treasury. The TTB collects Federal excise taxes on alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and ammunition and to assure compliance with Federal tobacco permitting and alcohol permitting, labeling, and marketing requirements to protect consumers.
2020 Public Policy Conference
In a year full of pivots, the latest was the transition to a virtual event for the annual American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) and Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. (DISCUS) Public Policy Conference, which took place on Sept. 15 & 16. And though the COVID-19 pandemic has made it impossible for participants to gather and meet with their U.S. Representatives and Senators in person, the online format carried one great benefit: it enabled a record number of attendees to virtually converge on the nation’s capital to advocate for the industry’s greatest priorities.
More than 300 craft distillers, trading partners and industry allies from 45 states spent day two of the Public Policy Conference making the case to Congress for permanent federal excise tax (FET) reform and to advocate for two other top legislative and regulatory priorities.
During nearly 200 virtual meetings with Senators and House members from both sides of the aisle, representing nearly all U.S. states, spirits producers urged support for the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA) HR 1175 in the House and S.362 in the Senate. Additionally, attendees called for the end of trade tariffs that have been severely impacting U.S. spirits exports and asked legislators to weigh in with their concerns about a flawed proposal under review at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to change the definition of moderate drinking for men in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines (DGA).