New Mexico Microbreweries Could Benefit From Tax Bill

The Santa Fe Brewing Company is one of New Mexico's largest microbreweries. Owners say a tax relief bill moving through the state legislature would help them expand.
Mónica Ortiz Uribe
By Mónica Ortiz Uribe
March 14, 2013

Photo by Mónica Ortiz Uribe
The Santa Fe Brewing Company employees 40 people, up from eight just 10 years go. Happy Camper IPA is one of their best sellers.
SANTA FE, N.M. — In New Mexico, more beer might mean a better economy. That's the thinking of some state lawmakers who are pushing for a tax break for local brewers.

The news about New Mexico's economy lately is bleak. The state is losing jobs, mostly in the government sector, and recent cuts in federal spending will only make matters worse. In response, at this year's legislative session, lawmakers are pushing bills that will help grow private sector jobs.

One of those growing sectors is microbreweries. At the Santa Fe Brewing Company, Mondays mean trivia night and this week their tasting room off Interstate 25 was rowdy with happy hour escapees. Ten years ago, the brewery had eight employees. Today there are more than 40 employees.

"New Mexico microbreweries are selling every drop of beer that they brew," said Christopher Goblet of the New Mexico Brewer's Guild. "Not one fluid ounce of beer is wasted, so at this point our industry is growing at an average of 12 percent annually."

Goblet is supporting a bill that would lower a microbrewery's tax rate from .41 cents a barrel to 8 cents. The rate would apply to those who brew more than 15,000 barrels, about enough to start exporting. The rate is also close to the national average, so lawmakers hope the bill will help New Mexico brewers to be more competitive.

State Senator Sue Wilson Beffort sponsored the legislation.

"What we want for small business is to think, 'What can I be some day? How can I grow? How can I hire more people?'" she said.

The bill has cleared the Senate and moved to the House. New Mexico's legislative session ends Friday.