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Sales tax will impact some beer prices this summer

FAWN GROVE, YORK COUNTY, Pa. -- You could soon be paying more for a pint of beer at breweries and tap rooms. That's because the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue said those businesses need to be collecting sales tax.

Tucked away in Old Mill village in Fawn Grove, York County, sits South County Brewing Co., a microbrewery that was built seven years ago.

"You'll notice that we do have a tv that has a beer menu but we don't have a tv for sports," JR Heaps, brewer and managing partner of South County Brewing Co., said. "We're trying to get people back together, just to drink a pint, talk to each other and just be people again."

But could customers start spending more for the experience? The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue told brewers in July that they must collect sales tax on their drinks. The tax hadn't been enforced or collected, but is now because of the boom in the craft beer industry.

"Now taprooms are going to have to charge basically six cents on every retail dollar sold," Heaps said. "Which would be, a new, approximately 36 cent tax per pint that would have to be passed onto the beer drinker in the state and we took issue with that because this is one of the few areas in the economy where it's really been booming offering jobs."

That tax was originally set to go into effect in January, but the department of revenue pushed it back to July 2019, citing confusion regarding the tax bulletin.

"What we're still trying to do is get the awareness out and say we appreciate pushing that back to allow everybody to look at the situation and see what's fair, but they still haven't acknowledged that fact that what they're trying to implement is 4 times the amount that a bar or restaurant would pay," Heaps said.

Heaps said though 36 cents on every drink might not seem like a lot, it adds up. For them, $20,000. Which is an expense that will have to be passed on to the customer.

"For a brewery likes ours, we can't just arbitrarily soak up $20,000 because that would've been a guy I could've hired, that I intend to, or a tank I could've bought, so I have to pass that on," Heaps said.