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Can Mid-Columbia Microbreweries Afford Gov. Inslee’s Proposed Beer Tax?

Ice Harbor Brewery one of many who could be affected by Inslee tax
(Courtesy Ice Harbor Brewery Facebook page)

Gov. Jay Inslee recently rolled out his budget plan. Newstalk 870 reported late last week part of Inslee’s new Working Washington Budget Priorities includes extending a temporary Business and Occupation tax and a temporary $.50 per gallon beer tax. This would include microbreweries, who are currently exempt.

The two taxes were part of former Governor Chris Gregoire’s attempt to ease a billion-dollar deficit. Set to expire June 30, Inslee wants to extend them. Washington ranks 8th in the U.S. in small private breweries, often referred to as microbreweries. There are dozens of such businesses in the Columbia Basin including Ice Harbor, Rattlesnake Mountain, Whitstran, Atomic Ale, White Bluffs, Yakima Brewery, Horse Heaven, and many others.

How would this plan affect these small breweries? Ice Harbor is estimated to brew around 1300 beer barrels, annually amounting to at least 40,000 gallons a year. The $.50 per-gallon tax means a tax increase of $20,000 for Ice Harbor alone.

Critics say this proposed tax burden could severely cripple or even put out of business some of the smaller operations.

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