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Tax reform bill expected to help local wineries

WSBT 22 photo

President Trump signed the GOP tax reform bill Friday. It will impact every taxpayer and business, including wineries in our area.

Before this bill the excise tax was based on how much wine you produced. Bigger wineries paid higher taxes.

Now all wineries big or small get the same tax break on the first 750,000 gallons they produce.

It will impact every winery in the country, including the wineries in southwest Michigan

It's last-minute shopping season in downtown St. Joseph. On many shopping lists is the perfect glass of Christmas wine. And for the wine industry, Christmas came early.

"This is a big deal for the wine industry," Says Dave Miller, White Pine Winery owner.

He says over the past few days his email has been flooded with news of the tax bill.

The bill lowers wine excise taxes, but some wineries will see a bigger benefit than others.

"The large wineries should benefit a lot, and I would hope that they would pass those savings on to consumers and lower prices," said Miller.

Smaller wineries like White Pine already had a tax break and won't see much of a change.

But like other businesses around the country, they could still see benefits from other parts of the bill.

"The businesses are going to have their tax rates drop from 35 percent to 21 percent. Significant amount of additional revenue is going to be available," said John Cergnul, St. Mary's College economics professor.

Miller says he is waiting until he can talk to his accountant before he forms an opinion on the changes. But he says business has been good this year, and he plans on planting more grape vines this spring.

He also isn't worried that other larger wineries in the area will now benefit from the tax break he has always enjoyed.

"We still have our niche," he said. "We're about boutique wines that are hand-made, and the tax rate really doesn't change that approach. The larger wineries, they're producing so much that it's just a little bit different ball game."

According to the Wine Institute, which represents a thousand wineries, this is the first wine excise tax reduction in 80 years. It says the bill will help grow wineries across the country.

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