Legislation that could lift an onerous burden from East End farm wineries and craft breweries passed unanimously in the New York State Assembly this week.
According to , who crafted the legislation, the measure would exempt farm wineries and craft breweries from a tax filing requirement.
The legislation, which aims to offer relief to small businesses struggling in today's economy, passed in a unanimous vote of 140-0 in the Assembly and is currently in the State Senate Finance Committee awaiting further action.
The vote was embraced by the local agricultural community. "The Long Island Farm Bureau supports this legislation that reduces paperwork and promotes regulatory reform," said Joseph Gergela, the executive directive of the LIFB. "Certainly, tax reform can help the industry, bottom line. The best land preservation is for the industry to be profitable."
According to Thiele, under current state law, all beer, wine and liquor wholesalers are required to report sales made to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.
Farm wineries and craft breweries were included within the definition of which wholesalers were required to report — but Thiele's legislation would exempt wineries as well as craft breweries from this "costly and burdensome paperwork requirement," he said.
"Our wineries can better use their time to grow their businesses and promote their product, rather than filling out costly paperwork," Thiele said.
A farm winery license limits the operation to producing no more than 150,000 gallons annually, while a farm distillery license limits production to 35,000 gallons, Thiele noted.
Due to the smaller sizes of the businesses, it is difficult for farm wineries and distilleries to absorb the cost of complying with the annual filing requirement, Thiele said.
Farm wineries and distilleries will still be required to maintain sales records, according to State Liquor Authority requirements, which will be available to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance upon request.
"Farm wineries and craft breweries are small and mostly family operations that have struggled to comply with this needless filing requirement," Thiele said. "The burden and cost on business far outweighs any benefit to the state. There are other ways that the State Tax Department can obtain this information."