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Saving the Hospitality Industry

Robert Whitley on

As the Senate works on a new COVID-19 relief bill, WineAmerica, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that lobbies on behalf of the wine and spirits industry, is encouraging specific legislation that would provide needed economic relief for your favorite wineries, craft spirits producers and even restaurants as the pandemic drags on and virus-related restrictions continue to disrupt the adult beverage industry.

Among other things, WineAmerica is asking Congress to do the following:

-- Enact a permanent extension of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (H.R. 1175/S. 362), which now has bipartisan support from 75 senators and 347 representatives. A permanent extension of the current federal excise tax rates would provide certainty amidst economic instability. Many craft beverage producers struggling to remain solvent during the current crisis fear what a significant increase in excise tax rates on Jan. 1, 2021, will have on their businesses.

-- Support the RESTAURANTS Act, which creates a revitalization fund for eligible food service establishments to keep workers employed, maintain operations and meet financial obligations. The legislation authorizes the Department of Treasury to provide grants to eligible food and drinking establishments for payroll, benefits, mortgage, rent, utilities, maintenance (including construction of outdoor seating), supplies (including protective equipment and cleaning materials), food, debt obligations to suppliers and any other expenses deemed essential by the secretary of the Treasury.

-- Create temporary tax incentives that encourage consumers to return to on-premise dining and drinking establishments once public health officials determine it is safe to do so. Examples include reinstating the expanded business entertainment tax deduction and creating a new temporary travel tax credit equal to 50% of any expense for meals, lodging, recreation, transportation or entertainment while traveling away from home within the U.S.

-- Encourage the administration to work with our trading partners to simultaneously suspend tariffs on beer, wine, distilled spirits products and our supply chain partners, and reduce trade barriers on the agriculture and food sector. Tariffs are taxes on our business operations, and the elimination or reduction of those tariffs would maintain the health of our businesses and global supply chains, support American jobs and help American consumers.

 

These are just a few of the steps Congress is considering that WineAmerica believes would bolster the overall hospitality industry, including restaurants that are now operating at severely reduced capacity in many parts of the nation. Restaurants have seen a dramatic decline in wine, beer and spirits sales due to capacity and social distancing guidelines.

Of course, you could do your part and dine out, order a bottle of wine or a cocktail, and provide some needed financial support to an industry that has been slammed by the nearly nationwide shutdown of large parts of the hospitality industry.

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Wines are rated on a 100-point scale. Wines are chosen for review because they represent outstanding quality or value, and the scores are simply a measure of this reviewer's enthusiasm for the recommended wine.

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