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Tax breaks for beer, unborn children and lawmakers are among goodies in Republican bill

Lisa Mascaro, Tribune Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

The measure reduces excise taxes on smaller producers -- halving the craft beer tax, for example, from $7 a barrel to $3.50 on the first 60,000 barrels produced domestically. And it reduces taxes overall at greater production output.

"Every congressional district in the United States includes a brewery, winery, distillery, importer, or industry supplier," said the organizations representing brewers in a letter to Congress. "These businesses are often cornerstones of their communities."

Including the measure was a way to pique the interest of Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Finance Committee, in the broader tax package, since he was a lead sponsor of the original bill. But he ultimately opposed the Senate overhaul.

The alcohol tax breaks have bipartisan support in the House and Senate and appear poised to remain in the final bill.

College endowments

The House and Senate bills impose a new, flat 1.4 percent excise tax on incomes produced by university and other private endowments.

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The Senate bill initially carved out an exception that specifically would have helped Hillsdale College in Michigan, a school backed by the wealthy family of Education Secretary Besty DeVos. But after criticism, it was deleted.

Under law, endowments face a tax that can range from 1 percent to 2 percent, depending on if they make dispersions.

Colleges and universities are particularly concerned the new tax will hurt operations, and The Yale Daily News reported that top alumni were lobbying Congress to drop it.

It's unclear if it will remain in the final bill.

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