Champagne tax on a cider budget? Hard cider makers want their taxes reduced

Cider taxed at same rate as wine, beer taxed at much lower rate

BOSTON (WWLP) – The temperatures are getting cooler, making it the perfect time of year to enjoy some hard apple cider, but some people in the state’s cider industry say their taxes are way too high.

Alex Snape, owner of Salem-based Far From the Tree Cider, says that many companies pay champagne-level taxes, when their main competitors are craft breweries, which are taxed at a lower rate.

Massachusetts cideries are currently being taxed at 55 centers per gallon based on the weight of alcohol, putting these beverages in the same category as champagne and other wines. Snape said that it is tough to pay champagne-level taxes when their cider is priced and sold like craft beer.

Rep. Paul Tucker (D-Salem) and Sen. Joan Lovely (D-Salem) have filed a bill to tax hard cider based on the volume of alcohol, bringing it to three cents per gallon.

“We’re paying $40,000 to $50,000 in taxes that breweries don’t have to pay. For us, that’s another cider maker, that’s another employee. For us being our size, it’s a huge deal,” Snape said.

The state Senate advanced a similar bill to lower the cider tax, but it didn’t pass the House.