New York apple industry toasts news of federal hard cider tax relief included in today’s U.S. Senate spending bill vote

New York state’s apple industry is raising glasses of hard cider today to toast the news that the U.S. Congress has approved an overhaul of how hard cider is taxed that will allow New York state hard ciders to be more competitive in the marketplace.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the measure as part of the so-called tax extenders bill approved yesterday; the U.S. Senate approved it today as part of a combined tax and government funding bill.

The House and Senate bills included language from bills introduced in both chambers earlier this year to level the playing field regarding how hard cider is taxed relative to other alcoholic beverages such as champagne, wine and beer. New York’s U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) had introduced the “Cider Investment and Development through Excise Tax Reduction (CIDER) Act of 2015” with five bipartisan cosponsors in May.

New York’s U.S. Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.-27) had introduced similar bipartisan legislation in the House of Representatives in January with Oregon’s Rep. Earl Blumenauer. Several U.S. representatives from New York subsequently co-sponsored that House bill: Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.-22), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.-18), Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.-13), Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.-21) and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.-20).

“As the second-largest apple producing state in the country, New York should be the core of hard cider boom we are seeing now. With this sensible change, our hard cider makers can sell more cider and grow their businesses – and that means our apple growers can sell more apples to those cider makers,” said NYAA President Jim Allen.

“Cheers to the leadership shown by the New York congressional delegation, our thanks to Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Chris Collins in particular,” he added.

Under current federal law, depending upon its alcoholic content hard cider can be taxed at same rate as wine, $1.07 per gallon – and depending upon its carbonation, it can be taxed at the even higher champagne rate of $3.30 per gallon. The CIDER Act provision included in the tax extender bill changes the definition of hard cider to tax it at $.23 per gallon, equivalent to beer.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.