Craft liquor distillers asking for federal tax cuts

SEATTLE -- Craft distilleries are popping up all over across the state, and the growing industry believes it needs a more even playing field when it comes to taxes.

Washington has more craft distilleries than just about any other state in the country, but high taxes are making it difficult for them to stay afloat.

The men and woman who own those distilleries are now asking lawmakers to support the Small Craft Distilleries Fairness Act, which would cut federal taxes for the businesses by about 80 percent.

"It's a great first start. I mean, we're way down the path by having this bill," said Kirby Kallas-Lewis of the Oola Distillery on East Union Street in Seattle.

Right now, small distillers pay the same tax rate as large liquor manufacturers.

"It's one of those things where if you can kind of lighten up a little bit and allow the industry to grow, there's going to be a lot more in the government coffers at the end of the day and we're going to have a healthier industry," Kallas-Lewis said.

Oola takes its used grain and sends it off to local farmers to feed livestock. They'd like to keep doing that as they make their specialty-infused vodka and whiskey, while also keeping people working and making decent profit.

"It would kind of make it all feel possible now. It feels like we're driven by passion and unrealistic optimism," Kallas-Lewis said.

Kallas-Lewis said he and his fellow distillers just want equal footing in the industry.

"If we could see some of the concessions going to our industry that the government has decided have been a good idea to help the wine and beer industry, that would be a good thing," he said.