This week, Senator Tom Briese (our elected state sentator in the 41st District), introduced LB314, a bill designed to provide property tax relief for Nebraska landowners. While we are deeply sympathetic for the need to support property tax relief for Nebraska farmers and ranchers, LB314 proposed an increase of 345% in state excise taxes for Nebraska brewers. The proposal increases state excise taxes from $.31/gallon to $1.38/gallon to produce beer. That does not include the federal excise taxes we pay, state and federal payroll taxes, state sales and use tax, local property and personal property taxes, along with a myriad of other use fees to operate our business.
So we did the math: Our average monthly production for 2018 was 1,291 gallons of beer. Our average monthly state excise tax bill was around $400. With this proposed increase, our tax bill would increase to $1,781.58. Instead of $4,800/year we pay in state excise taxes, this increase would put us on the hook for $21,379/year for state excise taxes! This proposal would make our state excise taxes the fourth largest monthly (and annual) expense for us at SBC behind payroll, rent and material costs.
We are one of the most heavily taxed and regulated industries in America, and CURRENT Nebraska excise taxes on beer are already the absolute highest in the Midwest ($.31/gallon vs. $.08/gallon in Colorado vs $.02/gallon in Wyoming). We support property tax relief and believe action is long overdue to support our area producers. But to finance this relief by destroying one of the only bright spots in the rural Nebraskan economy right now is foolhardy.
This unprecedented excise tax increase would severely limit our growth plans, jeopardize our operations and force us to consider serious increases in both the cost of our beer and our future expansion plans. This proposal would severely threaten our business’ existence to be blunt. Name a business that can incur a 345% increase in operational costs in a single year? You’d be hard-pressed to find a single one.
We’re asking that you contact Senator Briese, and let him know that you DO NOT support a 345% increase in taxation on Nebraska brewers, who many are working hand-in-glove with Nebraska farmers to develop new commodity markets for grain (like us). This bill would destroy jobs and investment in both rural and urban Nebraska. You are able to contact Senator Briese here and please be civil.
One last thing – why is it that the craft brewing industry in Nebraska has to continue to fight for its existence year after year after year in the state legislature? You would assume in a pro-business conservative state like Nebraska, elected officials would like to SUPPORT and ASSIST one of the most dynamic industries growing in the state. Industries that are adding jobs, investment and EMPLOYMENT in rural Nebraska. Help us spread the word, and fight this overreach. Thank you!