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Utah distilleries ask Congress for help ahead of tax increase

Posted at 5:57 PM, Nov 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-01 23:37:56-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s craft distillers are asking for help.

Fourteen local distilleries collaborated to compose a letter to Utah’s congressional delegation asking for tax relief.

In addition to struggles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, they worry an increase in taxes slated for January 2021 could decimate the industry.

“If we impose that 400 percent tax increase, I can almost guarantee 50 percent of distilleries will shut down,” said James Fowler of Sugar House Distillery. “This tax increase will just kind of be the nail in the coffin.”

Local distillers say their industry supports more than 3,000 jobs and pumps more than $400 million into the economy.

“Anything we can possibly get local, we get local,” Fowler said.

Restrictions on the capacity inside restaurants and bars have also taken a toll. The limitations not only impact those establishments, but the suppliers of their beverages.

“That’s been a really hard crunch for everybody, is not to have bar and restaurant sales,” Fowler said. “With all the bars and restaurants closing down, you lose that business of everybody going out and eating — so right off the bat, you lose 20 percent of sales.”

With rising COVID-19 numbers in Utah causing an uncertain future, local distillers are certain that if lawmakers don't act, the industry could suffer.

“I think in the next six months, that’s when you’re going to see the crunch of these local businesses really having a hardship,” Fowler said.

Click here to read the full letter.