Cuomo signs tax exemption for state breweries

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Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation recently that gives small breweries in New York state an important tax exemption and waives an annual state liquor authority fee.

In April, a similar state tax break ended after a Massachusetts-based beer importer, Shelton Brothers, filed a lawsuit.

The state, which last year launched an “I Love NY Brew” campaign to promote locally-made beer, moved quickly to reinstate the exemption.

“In addition to producing some of the finest beer in the world, New York’s craft breweries are creating jobs, supporting our state’s farmers and hops growers, as well as bringing in tourism dollars in local communities across New York,” said Cuomo.

Any brewery that produces 60 million or fewer gallons of beer in New York will now be eligible for a refundable tax credit applied against New York state personal income and business taxes. The legislation also exempts breweries in and outside of the state that produce brands of 1,500 barrels or less annually from the $150 annual brand label fee.

In an effort to promote locally grown farm products, the legislation also creates a “Farm Brewery” license that will allow craft brewers that use products grown in the state to operate in a similar fashion to the state’s farm wineries.

The legislation is good news for Rich Buceta, president and owner of SingleCut Beersmiths, Queens’ first brewery in decades, which will open this fall in Astoria. His business will qualify for both the tax and brand label fee exemptions.

“Starting out a brewery is a very expensive proposition with all the equipment, licensing and everything we have to pay,” he said.

When the law changed it was a real shock, Buceta continued. Though it wouldn’t have greatly hurt his brewery, it still would have impacted its revenue stream and made it difficult to pay off his debts.