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Schumer Pushes For Lower Taxes On Hard Cider

Beverage Is Now Often Taxed At Same Rate As Wine
Hard Apple Cider is just one of Liza Utter's suggestions for holiday party cocktails. (credit: EJ Media Group)

Hard Apple Cider is just one of Liza Utter’s suggestions for holiday party cocktails. (credit: EJ Media Group)

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ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is one of two senators leading an effort to lower the taxes on hard cider.

Schumer and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) have been pushing a the CIDER Act — or Cider, Investment and Development through Excise Tax Reduction Act — in Washington. The legislation would lower the tax on hard cider from the high level at which wine is taxed.

The bill would update the definition of hard cider to get the lower tax.

Currently, federal law only allows apple and pear cider to reach 7 percent alcohol by volume before they are taxed as wine, and only a certain level of carbonation before it reaches the champagne tax. But all New York state cider producers are small craft operators, and have little control over such factors, Schumer’s office said in March.

With the definition change, the excise tax would drop from as much as $3.30 per gallon to a flat rate of 23 cents per gallon – the same as the excise tax on beer, according to published reports.

Schumer said the change would provide a lucrative source of income for small apple-growing operations. He said they face a difficult crop to grow and fickle weather.

The bill has been progressing in the Senate and has a companion bill in the House.

In announcing a previous attempt at the proposal in March, Schumer noted that hard cider has grown in popularity as a craft beverage, but the current tax structure makes it difficult for producers and consumers alike.

New York is second in apple production the country after Washington state. New York harvests nearly 30 million bushels annually from over 650 farms.

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