Tester to Treasury: Montana Craft Alcohol Producers ‘need our help to keep serving up pints’

Senator urges Secretary Mnuchin to defer federal excise tax deadlines on alcohol producers through the end of the year

In an effort to ensure that Montana’s craft alcohol producers are able to keep taps flowing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Senator Jon Tester led a bipartisan group of colleagues in urging Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to defer all federal excise tax collection deadlines for domestic and imported alcohol beverages through December 31, 2020.

“Montana is consistently at the top of the list for most craft breweries per capita in the country, and these main street institutions—along with our wineries and distilleries—create thousands of jobs, and contribute hundreds of millions to our state’s economy,” said Tester. “Many of these businesses have taken one on the chin because of coronavirus, and they need our help to keep serving up pints to those of us who enjoy a nice cold one after a hard day’s work.”

According to the Montana Brewers Association, there are more than 80 small breweries across the state that support over 2,700 jobs and produce more than six million gallons of beer each year. Montana breweries also purchase more than three million pounds of malt grain from Montana farmers and contribute over $400 million to the state’s economy each year.

Even though alcohol sales across the United States are up, local brands that rely on their breweries, wineries, distilleries, and sales to restaurants are struggling to cope with limited capacities amid coronavirus. Excise tax payments were already delayed by 90 days due to the pandemic, but after listening to craft alcohol producers across Montana, Tester—along with a bipartisan group of colleagues—is requesting that the Department of Treasury extend the deadline through the end of 2020.

“Alcohol manufacturers play a critical role in the American economy and are closely tied to other sectors impacted by the COVID-19 health crisis, including the retail hospitality, restaurant, agriculture, and tourism industries,” said Tester and his colleagues in a letter to Secretary Mnuchin. “The alcohol industry workforce, supply chain, and its consumers are currently facing an extraordinary amount of disruption, and we want to work with you to provide immediate relief and stability.”

The Senators continued: “We now ask that you defer the collection of all federal excise taxes for the industry for the remainder of calendar year 2020. Please also consider deferring the accrual of any interest or penalties that might occur from the deferral of federal excise taxes.”

Tester has been a champion for Montana local craft brewers, vintners, and distillers. Last year, he introduced the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act to cut excise taxes on small craft alcohol producers and speed up the process of getting labels approved by regulators to help get product on the shelves faster. Last week, he supported expanded Paycheck Protection Program relief and flexibility for small businesses across the Treasure State.

Read the full copy of Tester’s letter HERE.

Visit tester.senate.gov/coronavirusresources for a list of resources for Montanans during the COVID-19 outbreak