ATR Supports Bill to Expand and Improve Health Savings Accounts


Posted by Ryan Ellis on Wednesday, March 4th, 2015, 5:35 PM PERMALINK


This week, H.R. 1196, ‘The Health Savings Act’ was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Health savings accounts (HSAs) are used in conjunction with low premium health insurance plans so that families can spend their own money on their own health needs. This legislation will make important improvements to HSAs to allow individuals and families greater freedom to finance their medical needs. ATR urges all members of Congress to support this legislation.

H.R. 1196, introduced by Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-Texas) makes several commonsense improvements to HSAs. This bill creates child HSAs to help parents meet the costs of caring for young children. Specifically, this will allow families to set aside part of their hard-earned after tax dollars towards the wellbeing of their children.

The legislation also raises the contribution limit that individuals are permitted to contribute to their HSAs to equal the annual out-of-pocket maximum. Lastly, H.R. 1196 protects individuals from losing money in HSAs from bankruptcy. If an individual faces bankruptcy, the money in an HSA is protected in the same manner as retirement accounts.

This legislation will increase patient choice, update and improve HSAs and allow American families the freedom to plan and finance their medical needs. ATR fully supports the Health Savings Act and urges all members of the House and Senate to support this bill.

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Big Government Republicans in Georgia Taking Aim at Conservative Groups

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Wednesday, March 4th, 2015, 5:19 PM PERMALINK


In an op-ed to the Daily Caller, ATR’s Paul Blair describes a troubling new phenomenon - Republican lawmakers targeting conservative groups for speaking out against tax hikes. Several Georgia Republicans including Gov. Nathan Deal, Speaker David Ralston, and House Transportation Committee Chair Jay Roberts have proposed raising the gas tax to fund their pet projects.

In order to push their proposals down the throat of Georgia Taxpayers, elected officials have attacked conservative groups that have spoken out. As the op-ed explains, ATR released a blog post criticizing this proposal for violating the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a written commitment that many Georgia legislators made to their constituents:

“As we regularly do, and in the course of exercising our First Amendment rights, we explained in a blog post on our website that raising the gas tax was in fact a tax hike in violation of the Pledge, which many legislators in Georgia have signed.

However, Speaker Ralston and his allies moved to quickly threaten anyone who spoke out against the demand that taxpayers hand over more of their hard earned income to out-of-touch politicians. As Paul Blair explains:

“Soon after, we received an email, fax, and overnighted letter by one of the founders of GeorgiaLink Public Affairs Group, accusing us of violating the law. We did not release this letter. The following day, however, the Speaker of the House accused us of illegally lobbying in Georgia. It is reasonable to assume the lobbyist and Speaker had discussed this tactic.”

Perhaps most concerning, this tactic is straight out of the liberal play book:

“This is how the left operates. When their message and policy proposals fail, they employ scare tactics to bully opponents of their big government agenda.”

Georgia Republicans need to realize that they are accountable to taxpayers, and that using the left’s strategy to stifle speech will not work. As Paul Blair explains:

“Taxpayers will not be silenced or threatened into submission. Tax hikes are what politicians do instead of reforming government. It is sad and unfortunate that some Republicans in Georgia are employing the tactics of left to use the government to stifle speech. They will not succeed.”

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Steven Martin

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Internship Opportunities - Apply Now!

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Posted by Miriam Roff on Wednesday, March 4th, 2015, 2:26 PM PERMALINK


We believe in a system in which taxes are simpler, fairer, flatter, more visible, and lower than they are today.  The government's power to control one’s life derives from its power to tax.  We believe that power should be minimized. ATR was founded in 1985 by Grover Norquist at the request of President Reagan.

Internship Description:  Americans for Tax Reform offers the chance to work alongside some of the best political advocates in Washington, as well as the opportunity for increasing responsibility.  Interns are assigned to work on policy issues side by side with members of our staff.  As a key part of the ATR team, interns work on projects such as the Taxpayer Protection Pledge (both federal and state candidates pledge not to raise taxes). Interns also have the opportunity to work on the Cost of Government Day, a report identifying and calculating government spending as a cost to taxpayers, and the International Property Rights Index, a report on the status of intellectual and physical property rights worldwide. Furthermore, many interns due to their work have been showcased on Drudge Report, The Daily Caller, The Washington Times, and other political publications!

Qualifications:  Duties include, but are not limited to, legislative and political research, drafting policy briefs, writing press releases, blogging, attending meetings, and assisting with events.  Applicants must be organized, responsible, independent, and effective under deadlines.  Exceptional written, social media, and oral communication skills are essential.  Interns are required to have a professional demeanor and phone manner.  Applicants should have a strong interest in tax reform and economic policy, and a fundamental orientation toward liberty.  ATR accepts applications from undergraduate and graduate students of all majors.  Full-time and part-time interns are paid hourly.  The positions can be taken for credit through the applicant's home university or college, coinciding with spring, summer, and fall semester dates.

Office Location:  Our offices are ideally located at 722 12th Street, NW, in the heart of Washington D.C. ATR is Metro accessible-located across the street from Metro Center.

Application: Please send a resume, a short writing sample (no more than five pages), a cover letter with your interest in ATR outlined to: Miriam Roff at mroff@atr.org.  Please use ‘Internship Application’ as the subject line of your email.

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Rubio-Lee Tax Reform Plan: What Pro-Growth Looks Like in the 21st Century

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Posted by Ryan Ellis on Wednesday, March 4th, 2015, 9:53 AM PERMALINK


Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) have introduced a tax reform plan which aims to be simultaneously pro-growth, pro-family, and much more simple than the current tax mess.  Here are the major components:

Business tax rate of 25 percent.  The corporate income tax rate is reduced from 35 to 25 percent.  The top income tax rate for “pass through” or “flow through” firms like Subchapter-S corporations, partnerships, LLCs and sole proprietorships would fall from 39.6 percent to 25 percent.  All businesses face the same income tax rate.

Zero percent tax rate on capital gains, dividends, and interest.  The plan reduces the regular tax rate on capital gains and dividends from 20 percent today to 0 percent.  Interest would also face a 0 percent tax rate (though interest is no longer deductible for businesses), meaning that all savings—even in taxable brokerage accounts and deposit accounts—would benefit from tax free growth.  All savings would work much like Roth IRAs do today.

Top personal rate cut to pre-Obama levels.  The top personal income tax rate would be reduced from 39.6 percent to 35 percent.  Exceptions obviously apply for business income (25 percent) and savings income (0 percent).
Simple two-bracket tax system.  The first $150,000 of taxable income for married couples (half this for singles) would face tax at a 15 percent rate.  All income earned above these levels face tax at a 35 percent rate.  But see the business/investment exception rates above.

Full business expensing.  All business capital investments—including equipment, building, inventories, and land—would be immediately and fully deductible from taxable income.  This would replace our current slow, multi-year deduction regime known as “depreciation.”  All investments are deducted the year the cash is actually spent.

Moving from worldwide to territorial taxation.  Any money repatriated from overseas (where it has already faced local taxation) would see no additional tax from the IRS.  To help finance this, a special 6 percent one-time tax (paid over a decade) is assessed on current overseas profits.

Pro-family tax reforms.  Creates a new $2500 child tax credit (on top of the current $1000 one) creditable to both income tax and payroll tax liability.  No more marriage penalty.

Simplicity.  Two brackets for individuals. The AMT is repealed.  The standard deduction is repealed and replaced by a $4000 tax credit for couples (half that for singles).  Only mortgage interest and charitable contribution deductions remain (these can be taken in addition to the personal credit).  Most returns would be postcard-sized.

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Dan Fendel

This is how things should be done. This is brilliant, fair, and will definitely grow the economy enormously. It also will make a LOT of the staff and offices and intrusive practices of the IRS unnecessary and cut-able, saving not only tax dollars but liberty. This is what should be done...NOW.

Alan Reynolds

The comment "(though interest is no longer deductible for businesses)" is worth far more than a parenthetical aside. That feature is arguably the most fundamental change in the famous Hall-Rabushka flat tax plan.

Interest deductions encourage risky leverage yet lose far more revenue than is regained by taxing related interest income (which mainly goes to tax exempt pensions, insurance, foundations, IRAs, foreign investors, etc.). Roger Gordon & Joel Slemrod once estimated that all capital taxes combined yield very little revenue largely because of business interest deductions and related arbitrage. http://www.nber.org/chapters/c...

Len Burman's Brookings-Urban TPC "revenue estimates" for Lee-Rubio are useless because they ignore the enormous revenue currently lost from deducting interest costs, but regained by Lee-Rubio.

The little-discussed business side of this plan seems more promising that the personal side, which might benefit from a little more fine-tuning. Perhaps Congress could separate the tasks and tackle them separately, as Scandanavian countires did with their "dual tax" -- high progressive rates on labor but low flat rates on capital.

randian

It isn't clear how the business income tax integrates with the regular personal income tax. Consider $75k of S-Corp profits plus $75k of wages. At what tax rate will the wages be taxed? Either answer is arguably correct.

The plan doesn't create "parity" between C-corporations and pass-through businesses because C corporations don't get a 15% bracket like pass-throughs do. That will kill the small C corporation.


It's Raining Taxes in Maryland

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Posted by Dorothy Jetter on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015, 4:19 PM PERMALINK


In Maryland, the government has decided to tax residents for the privilege of having rain fall on their property.  For the past 5 years, Maryland has taxed residents for simply having a roof over their heads.  In order to comply with EPA regulations, the Maryland State legislature has implemented a "rain tax."  According to Forbes,

"This tax is an annual fee on impervious surfaces such as roofs, driveways, sidewalks, garages, and any other surface that could create drainage problems and water contamination situated on property owned by an individual or a business."

Because of the nature of this regulation, it only affects nine counties and the city of Baltimore; making them responsible for paying the fee.  Along with being intrusive and frivolous, the "rain tax" is implemented differently in each county.  This makes it difficult for Marylanders to correctly follow the law.  For example,  Charles County levies a flat fee of $43 per property, while Montgomery County has fee rates ranging from $29.17 to $265.20 depending on size of impervious surfaces.  

As previously stated, the rain tax has been implemented in order to comply with an EPA regulation, a $7.7 billion project mandated by the federal government.  This leaves the people of Maryland paying into a fund for something they did not even vote for.  

There is hope for tax payers in the Bay State.  Governor Hogan announced a plan earlier this month to repeal the rain tax.  Because the mandate falls under federal jurisdiction, even if the rain tax is repealed, the Maryland legislature would have to find an alternative way to fund the EPA's nanny state regulation.  

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Lickylick

What the hell is wrong with the brains of politicians? Once upon a time they understood that they must follow the constitution, to serve the people's best interests following the common law rule of law. Today law schools don't even teach them the law, they teach them to negotiate contracts and to postpone hearing dates indefinitely, and how to lie about everything in order to benefit their private association at any cost so long as those costs are paid by others. That is what is wrong with them. Remember that the next time you listen to one say anything. I promise you they will be lying in part or in whole. There will be no honesty or whole truth found.

gholfdude

What a crock of horsecrap. Marylanders, you deserve it. You vote for them, you get them. Enjoy getting screwed.


Alabama Governor Unveils $541 Million Tax Hike

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Posted by Will Upton on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015, 2:30 PM PERMALINK


Robert Bentley, entering his second term as Alabama’s governor, has announced a proposal that would increase taxes by $541 million in an effort to plug what he says is a $700 million budget shortfall. Bentley’s move for higher taxes clearly violates his written promise to Alabama taxpayers to: “…oppose any and all efforts to increase taxes” — a promise he was more than happy to campaign on for re-election

Gov. Bentley’s proposal would increase taxes on cigarettes in Alabama by 82.5-cents per pack — estimated to generate $205 million. Additionally, the plan would double the sales tax on automobiles, from 2 to 4 percent, generating roughly $200 million. The $136 million remaining in tax hikes, according to AL.com, includes $47 million from ending the municipal exemption for the public utilities license tax, increasing the rental-car tax from 1.5 percent to 4 percent, an insurance premium tax, and requiring “… combined income reporting for corporations that do business in other states.” 

Relying on cigarette taxes — often a declining source of revenue as more and more Americans either reduce how much they smoke or quit — seems like a foolish way to plug Alabama’s revenue shortfall. The Washington Policy Center’s John Barnes detailed the disastrous decision in Washington state of relying on cigarette taxes to fund a 12% increase in state spending: “But actual collections under I-773 have been $2.5 million less than expected. Cigarette sales decline about 1% or 2% each year. Raising the tax pushes consumers to seek cigarettes out of state or from Indian reservations, or it cuts how much they buy. The state Department of Revenue estimated $220 million in lost revenue in 2003 due to people buying cigarettes via semi-illicit or downright illegal means.” In addition to people quitting or reducing their consumption of cigarettes, higher prices means an increase in smuggling. 

The Tax Foundation has uncovered that nearly 60 percent of the cigarette market in New York is comprised of smuggled cigarettes — New York also happens to have the highest cigarette tax in the nation. The Tax Foundation study reveals that Alabama does not currently have a severe smuggling problem but with low cigarette tax states like Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee well within driving distance, higher prices could cause a spike in smuggling activity in Alabama. 

Cliff Sims, writing at Yellowhammer News, has raised concerns about the declining consumption of cigarettes and what that means for the Alabama budget as well: 

And outside of the obvious fairness issue, those who think a hike on cigarette taxes could be a longterm cure for Alabama’s budget woes should also consider the precipitous decline in cigarette sales over the years.

As a result of the tax hikes, laws banning smoking, aggressive anti-smoking ad campaigns and polling that indicates Americans no longer consider smoking “normal behavior,” the U.S. Surgeon General published a 980-page report last year actually predicting an eventual end to smoking in the United States.

 …Alabama hit its peak in 1979, when there were 123 packs of cigarettes sold       for every person living in the state. By 2012, Alabama’s yearly cigarette sales       per capita had plummeted to 67.

While the governor has claimed that he wants people to pay their fair share, the two largest components of his tax plan are targeted tax increases on two consumer markets — one that is a declining source of revenue and the other, automobiles, is a captured market that people have little ability to avoid (for every 1,000 people, there are 1030 cars in Alabama.)

Couple the cigarette and automobile tax increases with a slew of other discriminatory and volatile (the proposed rental-car tax to name one) tax increases in the governor’s plan and it becomes apparent that Bentley is less concerned with governing than with attacking industries and products he finds to be politically expedient. This is not the way in which Alabama should tackle its budget issues. The fact is, between 2000 and 2009, state spending in Alabama has exceeded the rate of inflation and population growth by just over $20 billion. There is room for spending restraint. A long term plan to reduce the state’s out-of-control spending would go a long way to solve the current budget mess and ensure predictable and sound budgets in the future. 

Help Americans for Tax Reform stop Gov. Bentley’s tax hike. Call Gov. Bentley’s office at (334) 242-7100 or click here to email and tell him stand by his promise to Alabama taxpayers to oppose any and all efforts to increase taxes.

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Obamacare CEO: Website Will Not Be Finished until Obama Leaves Office

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Wednesday, February 25th, 2015, 4:25 PM PERMALINK


The Obama Administration’s Healthcare.gov back-end will not be completed until after the President leaves office, according to comments made by the website’s CEO yesterday. Despite starting construction on the website back in 2011 and pouring billions into the project, key structural problems remain. As Politico reported yesterday:

The ‘back end’ of the Obamacare website still isn’t properly wired to the health insurance companies. It’s slow going for health plans to make sure the 11.4 million people who have signed up end up in the right plan.”

Taxpayers should be alarmed that so much work remains to be a done on a website that was supposed to have been completed by November 2013. The exchange is closing in on the end of its second enrollment period, and yet the website remains unfinished. 

In fact, as of May 2014, the administration had spent almost $2.7 billion on the construction of Healthcare.gov alone. When federal subsidies for state-run exchanges are factored in, the federal government has spent almost $7.4 billion on construction of Obamacare websites for the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Despite this spending spree, key features of the website remain uncompleted, and taxpayers that have signed up for Obamacare will have difficulty navigating the website to ensure they comply with the laws many complex regulations. As the Politico article states:

“Subsidy payments aren’t automated, so the insurers get payments based on estimates. And adding information like a marriage or the birth of a child is a convoluted, multi-step process. … Instead of a swift process, health plans use clunky workarounds and manual spreadsheets. It takes time and it costs money.”

As if on cue, it was revealed last week that 800,000 individuals received the wrong tax information through healthcare.gov due to an “erroneous glitch”. As ATR’s Ryan Ellis noted, these 800,000 families are “literally caught in limbo until healthcare.gov gets its act together.” If the latest reports are any indication, taxpayers may be waiting a long time.  
 

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philips66

The whole Administration wouldn't last a month in the private sector. Imagine going to your boss and saying 'hey you know that important project we've been working on for 5 years? Yeah that one, well the website will be ready in a couple more years,'

philips66

It's normal to take 5 to 6 years to build a website, right? LOL how pathetic this crew of incompetents are!

kimhil

Billions of people now get health "care" - how many people are forced into a scheme that delivers little positively, and lots negatively - how many have lost good health care for mediocre, lost their health care provider, and as always, with gov. control, pay more for less - all in the false name of "leveling the playing field" - next net neturality, and amnesty for illegals - will we ever learn? The one Republican on the net neutrality lie board/Ajit Pai is thoroughly vilified by the left - people need to learn, and fight for their freedoms because they are loosing them through executive fiat - which now is over-reach, corrupt manipulative activity by the executive branch ruled by thieves. Some people are fine with eating the crumbs from the progressive plate, but this does -not have to be the new (pathetic) normal.


Americans for Tax Reform Responds to Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Income Tax Plan

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Posted by Will Upton on Wednesday, February 25th, 2015, 12:31 PM PERMALINK


Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform has released the following statement in response to Gov. John Kasich’s income tax cut plan in Ohio:

In last night’s State of the State Address, Governor Kasich unveiled a plan to lower income tax rates for Ohioans by $2 billion. While this is a laudable goal, the proposal also contains nearly $1.5 billion in tax hikes – primarily on job creators.

The recent drop in energy prices has already triggered layoffs in some Ohio steel plants as the demand for pipeline manufacturing has declined. Increasing taxes on Ohio’s energy producers and small businesses could lead to more layoffs and set Ohio back in its economic recovery.  

Additionally, the proposed increase on tobacco products leaves open the door to future income tax hikes as tobacco has proven consistently to be a declining source of revenue. And increasing taxes on e-cigarettes and vapor products, devices many people use to quit smoking and improve their health, is counter-productive to the goal of a healthier Ohio.

Between the year 2000 and 2009, Ohio’s spending exceeded the rate of inflation and population growth by $73.6 billion. There is room to cut in the state budget. The legislature would better serve Ohio taxpayers by reducing state spending and reducing income taxes rather than cutting taxes on the backs of job creators.

Gov. Kasich’s plan to reduce state income taxes is a step in the right the direction for Ohio taxpayers, but doing so on the backs of job creators leaves the plan less than inspiring. 

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JD

The real "job creators" are when more people can afford to buy stuff Grover, Why do you insist that giving more and more to the rich really helps our country? Also you and your party say "job creators" like it's some sort of threat..,and it's become very typical of you.


Most Keystone Pipeline Oil Would Be Consumed in US

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Posted by Cassandra Carroll on Tuesday, February 24th, 2015, 4:22 PM PERMALINK


A new report by IHS finds that about 70% of oil from the Keystone Pipeline would remain in the US, in contrast with the left's perpetuated misunderstanding that most Keystone XL crude oil would be exported. In fact, it is currently illegal for the American companies to export crude oil, thanks to an arcane law. The report also highlights the impact of greenhouse gas from processing oil imported through the pipeline would be negligible, as the imported oil would be taking the place of, rather than being added to other imported crude oil with similar carbon intensity, such as from Venezuela. Overall, the report shows yet more solid evidence that the Keystone XL pipeline would be a net benefit to the US in terms of jobs, low environmental impact, and reduced dependency on foreign oil.

But no good thing is without its detractors: Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass) makes unambiguous claims that he believes most, if not all Keystone oil would be exported as part of an “Oil Industry Export Plan”. In a press release, Markey states:

“The Canadian Keystone export pipeline isn’t about helping Americans at the gas pump, it’s about pumping up profits for oil companies. This export pipeline would make the United States a middleman to ship Canadian oil to the thirstiest foreign markets abroad, where they can charge more for their oil while our country assumes all the environmental risk.”

Unfortunately for Markey, if you take advantage of widespread public misconceptions, you often find yourself eating crow. 

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Beer Tax Relief on Tap in Congress & State Capitals

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Posted by Patrick M. Gleason on Tuesday, February 24th, 2015, 12:51 PM PERMALINK


Nearly half of the cost of beer, over 40 percent, is the result of taxes. The federal and all 50 state governments assess targeted taxes on beer, which is borne by consumers in the form of higher prices. Fortunately, two bills were introduced last month in Congress to provide some needed relief: The Small BREW Act & The Fair BEER Act. 

For those who don't think the tax code should be used to pick winners and losers, the Fair BEER Act is the better of the two bills, as it reduces taxes for all breweries, while the Small BREW Act only applies to some breweries. Scroll down to read a recent column in Reuters by ATR's Grover Norquist and Patrick Gleason that explains the differences between these two bills, along with similar efforts to reduce beer taxes at the state level: 

REUTERS

Title: The most expensive ingredient in beer? It’s not hops, it’s taxes.

By: Grover G. Norquist & Patrick Gleason

Whether you like craft beer brewed in small batches or the mass-produced variety, the most costly ingredient that goes into every pint of beer in the United States is taxes. Between federal, state and local levies, taxes make up, on average, more than 40 percent of the cost of beer purchased in the United States. In an effort to reduce the excessive tax bite, two competing bills have been proposed this month on Capitol Hill, along with legislation at the state level.

One of the proposed bills, the Small BREW Act, would, if passed, provide targeted federal excise-tax cuts for beer made by domestic brewers, with tax relief based on volume. This bipartisan bill would change the definition of a small brewer.

The federal government now levies a $7 tax on each of the first 60,000 barrels produced by small brewers. After that, the tax spikes to $18 a barrel. Businesses not defined as small brewers — those that produce more than 2 million barrels annually — must pay the $18 federal tax on every barrel they make.

The proposed bill, however, would halve the tax for small brewers on the first 60,000 barrels to $3.50 a barrel and redefine a small brewer as a business producing fewer than 6 million barrels a year, as opposed to the current 2-million barrel standard.

Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced this bill. It has 25 Senate sponsors from both parties.

A competing bill, the Fair BEER Act, would provide federal tax relief for brewers of all sizes that are headquartered both domestically and abroad. Brewers producing 7,143 barrels or less a year, which represents 90 percent of brewers — would be exempt from paying federal beer excise taxes.

Brewers who produce between 7,144 and 60,000 barrels would face a $3.50 a barrel excise tax. Production in excess of 60,000 and up to 2 million barrels would face a $16-a-barrel tax. An $18-a-barrel tax would apply to production beyond 2 million barrels.

This bill, introduced by Representatives Steve Womack (R-Ark.) and Ron Kind (D-Wis.) has 23 co-sponsors.

But not just lawmakers on Capitol Hill are looking to provide tax relief for beer drinkers. State legislators seek to reduce the excessive tax burden on suds. In addition to the federal excise tax, all 50 states apply punitive taxes on beer. Tennessee, for example, levies the highest excise tax on beer at $1.17 a gallon. Alaska comes in second, with a rate of $1.07 a gallon. Wyoming has the lowest beer excise tax, at $0.02 a gallon. Wisconsin and Missouri have the next lowest, at $0.06 a gallon.

CLICK HERE to read the rest of the column

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