As many of you doubtless already know, the budget submitted by Governor Jay Inslee calls for a rough quintupling of the excise taxes paid by small brewers selling their beer in the state of Washington. Only one in-state producer–Redhook–produces more than the 60,000 barrels per year ceiling on the exemption that has existed since taxes on larger brewers were raised a couple of years ago, quietly, in the final hours of congressional session. The loss of this exemption would mean a rise to at least $23 per barrel of production. This is over twice the tax paid by Alaskan brewers, the current unhappy leaders in the shouldering of excise tax burden. Larger Washington brewers such as Georgetown, Mac and Jack’s and Elysian (my company) would see an increase of several hundred thousand dollars per year. Even a nano brewery producing a hundred barrels a year would be on the hook for an additional two thousand dollars.
No brewery so affected will be able to absorb these costs and simply call it good. Prices to wholesalers and retailers would rise, resulting in a likely cost increase per keg of at least $20, and a probable jump in pint prices across any given bar of fifty cents to a dollar. Packaged beer, of course, would go up in price as well.
Washington’s roughly 200 small brewers employ in the neighborhood of 3500 people. These are local people working for predominantly locally-owned companies, which in turn support local Washington growers of hops and barley. Because of this concentration of beer production-related bounty, Washington is vulnerable to such a tax increase in ways that no other state would be. Brewers in other states would better be able to secure the ingredients needed to produce beers of character, better able to market these beers in our state and elsewhere, and better able to reinvest in their own breweries, and to create jobs in their own local areas. This tax hike doesn’t just threaten to raise prices, it threatens the entire Washington craft beer industry. Contact your congresspeople, and the Governor himself, to voice your opposition to this predatory item in the proposed budget.
Below are two links to letters you can send to your representatives. The first one is ready to send. The second is for people who wish to personalize their communication. Thank you for taking the time to support your local brewery!
READY TO SEND:
EDIT FIRST LETTER: