LAKE PLACID - A local brewer says he's raising his glass to legislation that will help him avoid a costly tax hike.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature rolled out a package of bills this week that will enact tax credits to make up for excise tax exemptions that were ruled unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court earlier this spring.
"I'm very excited about it," Chris Erickson, owner and head brewer at the Lake Placid Pub and Brewery, told the Enterprise.
The tax exemptions, which the state Supreme Court ruled gave in-state brewers an advantage over out-of-state brewers, meant craft brewers didn't have to pay a 14 cent-per-gallon state tax on the first 200,000 barrels of beer produced annually. In-state brewers were also exempt from a 12 cent-per-gallon tax on beer sold in New York City.
The legislation introduced this week aims to cancel out the loss of those exemptions.
"It's not really a windfall for us because it's back to where it was, but I certainly can't complain that a $40,000 bill went away," Erickson said.
Erickson said he hopes the new tax credits will "pass the constitutionality test that the other excise tax did not.
"We weren't sure Albany was going to be able to act on this as expeditiously as we hoped they would."
Erickson said it appears that Cuomo and lawmakers support the craft brewing industry. He said he and other brewers are not asking for handouts - they're just asking government not to put up any roadblocks.
"The last thing in the world I'm doing is asking for a subsidy, but when someone hands you a $40,000 bill, that's a big problem," Erickson said.
David Katleski, president of the New York Brewers Association and owner of Empire Brewing in Syracuse, said the legislation lets a growing industry continue to expand and create jobs.
Katleski said the craft beer industry in New York state has nearly doubled in size over the last 10 years, accounting for some 3,000 direct jobs and about $200 million in sales.