By: Laurie Knight, NBWA Executive Vice President, Government Affairs
Thank you for taking the time to attend the 2017 NBWA Legislative Conference to advocate for the independent beer distribution industry. The 115th Congress is off to a fast start, with Republicans in control of the House, Senate and White House for only the third time in history.
It is extremely timely for you to be on Capitol Hill. Comprehensive tax reform is a key priority for both the Administration and Congress, and the House and Senate have begun work on what is anticipated to be the most comprehensive business and individual tax overhaul since 1986. During your meetings on Capitol Hill, you will have the opportunity to sound off on tax issues important to your businesses and be part of the conversation in Congress.
However, constructing and passing legislation that will make it to the president’s desk for signature is a complicated process, especially on the heels of the Affordable Care Act repeal attempt. In this new political environment, votes cannot be taken for granted; House and Senate leadership will need to work with all members to garner the necessary support. The House Republican “blueprint,” which was released last June, has been the primary focus of discussion and has provided the first glimpse of how tax writers in the House plan to overhaul our tax system. The Senate Finance Committee has not yet floated its version of a proposal, but is expected to release its own version of a tax reform plan in the coming months.
Distributors need to let members of Congress know how tax reform will affect their businesses. We must encourage Congress to lower the individual and corporate tax rates in similar ways. Main Street businesses, regardless of how they are structured, should not be taxed at a higher rate than large corporations. NBWA has worked closely with others in the small business community to educate Congress about S corporations and other pass-through businesses and the impact of taking away their tax status. Distributors should continue to be vigilant and outspoken about any efforts to modify a beer distributor’s ability to use the last-in, first-out (LIFO) method of accounting and other tax treatments used by pass-through businesses. Additionally, advocating for permanent meaningful estate tax reform remains important. While fully repealed in the House “blueprint,” it is essential to reiterate that estate tax relief will help family-owned businesses, like independent beer distribution companies, plan for the future.
Expectations for action are high, but the timing is complicated. If the House advances tax reform this summer as Speaker Paul Ryan (WI) has suggested, the Senate could take up its own tax reform legislation in the fall, with enactment of a bill likely late in the year. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said that he expects tax reform to be completed before Congress adjourns for its August recess, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) has indicated that the process will continue into the fall. Be sure to ask questions regarding the timeline, especially when meeting with members of the House Ways and Means Committee or the Senate Finance Committee. Your feedback is very important to NBWA.
Your meetings on Capitol Hill during the Legislative Conference are crucial to building strong, meaningful relationships with your elected representatives. Be sure to make the most of them, and remember to invite members of Congress to tour your warehouse during a district work period.
Thank you again for coming to the nation’s capital to put a face on America’s beer distribution industry. This is NBWA’s most important advocacy week of the year because you truly are your own best advocates. I look forward to joining you for successful meetings on Capitol Hill and afterward for a cold beer.