Wyden intros bill to update kombucha regulations

Would scrap unintended tax, rule burdens

WASHINGTON - Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.,introduced bipartisan legislation Wednesday that would modernize outdated federal alcohol taxes and regulations on kombucha companies in Oregon and nationwide.

“The growth of kombucha production in our state and throughout the country creates jobs and a tasty beverage,” Wyden said. “This legislation would update taxes and regulations so these small businesses can continue to build on their achievements creating good jobs and good flavor for kombucha’s many fans.”

In the Senate, the Keeping our Manufacturers from Being Unfairly Taxed while Championing Health (KOMBUCHA) Act is co-sponsored by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.). The bill is co-sponsored in the House by Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Scott Tipton (R-Colo.).

The senator, who visited Bend's Humm Kombucha last fall, said kombucha -- a combination of tea, water, and a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast --- has trace amounts of alcohol that can trigger federal excise taxes and regulations covering alcoholic beverages.

Yet a person would have to consume, for example, between five and 10 bottles of kombucha to equal the alcohol in just one beer.

The KOMBUCHA Act would eliminate those unintended tax and regulatory burdens by increasing the applicable alcohol-by-volume limit for kombucha from 0.5 percent to 1.25 percent, Wyden said.

Kombucha would still have to meet the health and safety requirements generally applicable to nonalcoholic beverages.  

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