WINDSOR, Colo. (CBS4) – Owners of local breweries, distilleries and wineries are holding out hope that the “Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act” (CMBTRA) will be signed permanently into law as part of the proposed spending bill awaiting President Trump’s signature. While many Americans are taking focus on the payout of a stimulus, local business owners like Amanda Weakland are especially focused on the passage of the CMBTRA.
Weakland co-owns The Heart Distillery and High Hops Brewing, both businesses which are operated out of her third business’s property, “The Windsor Gardner.” The small businesses have all been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the two with licenses to serve alcohol and food were most drastically hit.
“We are ready for 2020 to be over,” Weakland told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas. “We are 80% down in the tasting room.”
With many of her customers previously coming in to purchase a few drinks while socializing, indoor seating restrictions have plummeted sales.
“The bottom line is tight,” Weakland said.
Weakland said she has been redistributing funds from her gardening business to help keep the distillery and brewery afloat.
But, a potential nail in the coffin could come in less than two weeks if President Donald Trump and Congress are unable to extend the CMBTRA, which expires at the end of 2020.
“What it did was decrease excise taxes put on small breweries, distilleries and wineries,” Weakland said.
The excise tax reduction has been renewed on a yearly basis since 2018, but congress recently included a permanent extension under the new spending bill. A spending bill which the President has refused to sign until more taxpayer dollars are redirected back in to the American economy.
Weakland said she was thrilled to learn the CMBTRA was included in the spending bill, but was disheartened when she learned it could now be in limbo while other unrelated disputes are ironed out.
Weakland said expiration of the CMBTRA could increase her regular $300 excise tax on her distillery products to more than $1,800.
“The brewery, it is double,” Weakland said.
Colorado is home to many nationally renowned macro breweries, and substantially more microbreweries.
With only days left before the expiration arrives, Weakland said she was crossing her fingers that an agreement would be reached to help small business owners like herself.
She has already been forced to lay off many employees due to the financial downturn of COVID-19, and said an excise tax increase would be detrimental.
“It would be a very-very long and tough winter,” Weakland said. “This bill is so important for small breweries and distilleries. If it doesn’t pass, with what is going on, we don’t know if we can still be in business. That is how important this bill is.”