Beverage Alcohol Industry Calls for Equal Tax Treatment for Imports

In a letter sent April 23 to Secretary of Treasury Stephen Mnuchin, U.S. beverage alcohol associations urged the Administration to provide parity in the deferral of federal excise taxes payment for domestic and imported wine, beer and distilled spirits in response to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau allowed all U.S. distillers, brewers and vintners to delay their federal excise tax payments for 90 days, providing domestic producers with some liquidity in order to maintain workers and continue to contribute to the economy.

On Monday, Customs and Border Patrol issued guidance for beverage alcohol importers allowing them to delay their federal excise tax payments only if they prove they have faced a more than 40 percent loss of revenue.

This onerous requirement and disparate guidance will mean importers—which support thousands of jobs in the United States—will not have the capital that is critical for all businesses to protect jobs.

The letter requests Customs of Border Patrol bring their policy in line with the Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to provide a 90-deferral for beer, wine and spirit importers to pay for federal excise taxes.

In the letter, the associations applauded the Administration’s recent efforts to provide financial relief to affected industries during the unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19 but requested equal tax treatment for importers.

“Importers of beer, wine, and spirits pay the same federal excise tax as domestic producers,” says the industry leaders. “We urge the Administration to revise its most recent action to provide parity between importers and domestic suppliers in terms of the ability to defer payment of the federal excise tax and extend such deferrals for consumption withdrawals through July 1, 2020.”

They underscored that the beverage alcohol industry is an important economic driver in the United States generating millions of jobs and billions of dollars in wages, taxes and employee benefits which are now more critical than ever.

The letter was signed by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, American Distilled Spirits Alliance, the National Association of Beverage Importers, Beer Institute, Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, and the Wine and Spirits Shippers Association.

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