The New York Times has an article highlighting the peculiarities of the beer tax. It applies to "small brewers" -- those who make fewer than 2 million barrels a year -- at $7 a barrel for the first 60,000 barrels and $18 a barrel for each additional barrel. Senators Kerry and Crapo are sponsoring a bill to raise the definitional limit of a small brewer to 6 million barrels and cut the tax to $3.50 a barrel for the first 60,000 and $16 a barrel for additional barrels. Large brewers now pay $18 a barrel on everything.
We're all for tax cuts, especially on beer, and the Boston Beer Company, which makes Samuel Adams and which figures prominently in the Times article, was kind enough to provide some free beer once in connection with an event for my biography of Samuel Adams. And we understand the case that the big beer companies already have big advantages over the little guys in terms of distribution networks and the like. It's interesting to think, though, about how this concept of lower tax rates for smaller producers might apply to the rest of the economy. Lower taxes for small hardware stores as opposed to the big chains? For small restaurants as opposed to the fast food chains? Small office supply stores as opposed to the big box retailers?
The Times article doesn't mention anything about campaign contributions from the small brewers to the senators and congressmen backing the tax break, and the Federal Election Commission database is running slowly for me this morning for some reason, but, naturally, the money trail is there.