House passes bill to give tax break to bourbon industry

The Kentucky House has passed a bill that gives a tax break to the bourbon industry.
Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 4:04 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - The Kentucky House has passed a bill that gives a tax break to the bourbon industry.

House Bill 5 gradually lowers the property tax for distilleries from 2026 to 2039.

Opponents say it does away with revenue needed to fund everything from county sheriff’s offices to fire departments. Those in favor of this bill say it is needed to save jobs in an industry that is growing in Kentucky.

However, if they don’t halt this tax, some say bourbon jobs and infrastructure may not flow so freely throughout the state as it has in recent history.

“Kentucky remains and continues to be the dominant player in bourbon production,” said Andrew McNeill, The Bluegrass Institute. “It would be short-sighted, however, to base policy decisions on that fact.”

Several communities that get hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, in tax revenue from the bourbon industry say that without it, the consequences will be catastrophic.

Anderson County’s sheriff says the tax accounts for more than $2 dollars to the community, and $70,000 goes to the sheriff.

Fire departments also gain from that revenue.

“We work right now at 10 cents per $100. You all know that that is in chapter 75. It has been that way for over 30 years. The cost of a fire truck has gone from a couple of hundred thousand dollars to, the last one I purchased was $2.9 million,” said Rick Bobo, Kentucky Firefighter’s Association.

The bill passed the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee 19 to 2 with three lawmakers passing. It then went to the full House and passed in a 59 to 40 vote.

House Bill 5 now goes to the Senate.

There are just five legislative days left in this year’s special session. Three this week and two at the end of the month. If this bill passes the full House, it still has to go through the Senate.