This bill would change the way hard ciders are taxed. The definition of “hard cider” would be revised for the excise tax on distilled spirits, wines, and beer so it covers any wine that:
Has a carbonation level at or below a level of 6.4 grams per liter;
Is derived primarily from apples, apple juice concentrate and water, pears, or pear juice concentrate and water;
Contains no fruit product or fruit flavoring other than apple or pear;
Contains between 0.5 percent and 8.5 percent alcohol by volume.
These changes would allow cider makers to use natural products that are available to them without increasing their tax burden. The changes would also establish standards for carbonation levels and alcohol content that accounts for the sugar content of apples.
Current law taxes ciders with greater than 7 percent alcohol content at a higher rate, and ciders with too much carbonation are assessed the champagne tax which can be over $3 per gallon. Both of these provisions would be prevented from impacting cider makers by this legislation.