Collins will try again with CIDER Act

Staff Reports Posted 30 January 2015 at 12:00 am

File photo by Tom Rivers – This photo was taken in 2013 in an Albion orchard on Zig-Zag Road.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressmen Chris Collins (R-Clarence) says will he try again to get legislation passed in Congress to promote the cider industry.

Collins and Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon, are reintroducing the bipartisan Cider Industry Deserves Equal Regulation (CIDER) Act. The Act, HR 600, would amend the section of the tax code that deals with wine and related beverages, 26 USC § 5041, to support the growing number of craft and entrepreneurial cider makers, and tailor IRS rules to reflect variations in craft ciders across the country.

“I am proud to introduce legislation that will support our nation’s apple growers and cider makers,” Collins said. “The CIDER Act will help spur growth in these industries by restructuring taxes to fairer rates that take into account the natural variations in the cider making process.”

During the fermentation process, a variety of factors can lead to small changes in the composition of a cider’s alcohol content and carbonation. Because of the narrow way that hard cider is currently defined in the tax code, these small variations can lead to cider being taxed at a rate fifteen times higher than what the statute clearly intended.

The Collins-Blumenauer bill would update the tax definitions to greatly reduce the chance that improper taxation could occur. The bill would also broaden the definition to include both pear and apple ciders.

The changes proposed by Blumenauer and Collins will update the existing federal definition of cider to better reflect the industry and keep American cider competitive in the international marketplace, Collins said.

Production nationally has been robust, more than tripling from 9.4 million gallons in 2011 to 32 million gallons in 2013. Cider revenues in the U.S. have been just as impressive, tripling from $178 million in 2007 to $601 million in 2012.

“Cider making is sometimes closer to an art than a science,” Blumenauer said. “As the American apple and pear hard cider industry becomes more prominent on the world stage, and cider becomes a beverage choice for more Americans’ developing palettes, we need to ensure that cideries have every opportunity to expand and meet the needs of this growing market without an unfair tax burden.”

Collins previously introduced CIDER legislation in 2013. He held a news conference in September 2013 at Leonard Oakes Estate Winery in Medina, trying to promote and highlight the legislation.

Wendy Wilson, the winery’s president, said then that a change in the tax code, taxing hard cider at a reduced rate, would save the winery about $8,000 annually in taxes. That money could be used for more marketing to draw more people to the area, she said.