Oregon distilleries face tough taxes, looking to pass bill to sell liquor tax free
EUGENE, Ore. - Local distilleries are banning together to try and lower taxes on liquor sales in distillery tasting rooms in Oregon.
The Oregon Distillers Guild created a bill that would allow tasting rooms to sell liquor without an extra tax.
Distilleries are popping up around Oregon, and plenty of liquor is selling. However, there is one common concern that Oregon distilleries share -- involving a tax on liquor sales.
"We pay upwards of 40 percent of our profits every single month to the state," said Emily Jensen, with Thinking Tree Spirits.
Distilleries selling hard liquor must pay the state about forty percent of its liquor sales in a tasting room once they surpass $10,000 in sales each month. According to the local owners, that is unlike beer or wine tasting rooms.
"Absolutely it's stopping the growth of distilleries," said Jensen. "This week alone, while I was up in Salem meeting with other senators and distillers on the issue, there's one or two distillers that are like, "I might just shut down my operation and move to another state.'"
The Thinking Tree Distillery buys its products locally, but says it will start selling its liquor outside of Oregon to escape the high mark-up it's paying the state from selling in the tasting room.
For Crescendo Spirits Distillery, the tax is affecting them in a similar fashion.
"With our current system, the way it's set up, we just can't make any money out of it and it makes it hard to hire employees and makes it hard to get materials," said Kyle Akin, owner of Crescendo Spirits. "What we would really like to see is the state of Oregon behind us giving us a break on this taxation and ultimately look at how they're taxing the spirits."
Both distilleries say that this new bill would help improve their ability to do business in Oregon.
Oregon distillieries are working with state senators to pass the bill, known as the Oregon Craft Spirits Tasting Room and Tourism Act.
The bill would allow distilleries one tasting room where they would retain 100% of their revenue. The distilleries say the bill would allow them to continue selling to tourists and hire more staff.