Grand Rapids Press: Sen. Gary Peters visits Grand Rapids distillery, wants lower taxes on craft liquor

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Those in the craft distillery business call the federal excise tax on liquor a "hangover from Prohibition."

Flanked by a pair of bronze distillers in Long Road Distillery's production facility Monday morning, Sept. 14, 2015, U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) said he hopes to significantly lower the sin tax on liquor, and therefore put distillers on the same footing as beer and wine makers.

In May, Peters and fellow Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the Distillery Excise Tax Reform Act, which would reduce the tax from $13.50 per proof gallon to $2.70 for the first 100,000 gallons. That reduction would greatly benefit small businesses such as Long Road, while still allowing the government to collect tax revenue from larger national and international distilleries.

"The big guys can hit 100,000 gallons in a week," Van Strien said.

Long Road is on pace to produce between 12,000 and 15,000 proof gallons of liquor during its first year. The distillery opened its bar and restaurant at 537 Leonard St. NW in May.

Peters' appearance Monday drummed up support for the bill, which was referred to the Committee on Finance May 21.

Long Road co-owner Kyle Van Strien said the bill, if passed, would save Long Road $100,000 annually, and potentially more as the distillery has yet to maximize its production capacity. He said he and co-owner Jon O'Connor plan to expand the production facility, kitchen and dining room, and would be able to make those changes more quickly if the bill is adopted.

By:  John Serba
Source: Grand Rapids Press