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  • Jan 22, 2020Brewers Get a Reprieve With Excise Tax Extension

    By: Brian Pedersen

    First published in Lehigh Valley Business on January 17, 2020, which you may view if you have a subscription.

    Brewers get a reprieve with excise tax extension

    The extension of the excise tax on brewing is a win-win, says Chris Lampe, president of the Brewers of Pennsylvania and an owner of Weyerbacher Brewing Co. in Easton.

    Brewers can breathe a little easier. And so can beer drinkers.

    Congress enacted legislation that will avoid a massive tax hike on beer in 2020.

    For now.

    As 2019 ended, the Brewers of Pennsylvania and other beer industry groups lobbied Congress to pass the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, or extend the current excise tax rate before Dec. 31.

    They extended the tax.

    Not doing so would have meant higher taxes for brewers across the state and potentially, higher prices for consumers. However, for brewers, the $3.50 per barrel tax will remain. Had Congress not acted, the tax would have returned to its $7 rate.

    In a statement, Jim McGreevy, president and CEO of the Beer Institute, said the recently signed legislation extending excise tax relief for all brewers and beer importers provides brewers and beer importers the certainty they need to continue growing and reinvesting in their businesses.

    “More than two-thirds of Americans across the political spectrum want excise tax relief for the beer industry, which supports more than 2.1 million American jobs,” McGreevy said. “As we look forward to 2020, Congress must continue working to pass the extremely popular bipartisan, bicameral Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, and make the current beer excise tax rates permanent.”

    Making the current excise tax rates permanent for all brewers would avoid a repeat of the uncertainty leading up to the end of the year, uncertainty that affects decision-making, job growth and planning for all brewers.

    “Obviously, people are very happy,” said Ted Zeller, general counsel for the Brewers of Pennsylvania and an attorney for Norris McLaughlin in Allentown. “There’s a whole segment of brewers who don’t know of any other tax. Their whole business model is formulated on the lower tax. This is what they perceive it will always be.”

    Planning for a potential tax hike is something that brewers should do this year, said Zeller, who specializes in liquor law. There’s always the chance Congress may not act in time to extend the current rate again.

    “Plan on it not being extended and then be happy when it is,” he said. “The industry is rapidly changing so we’ll see what this year brings. It’s a highly regulated industry and it’s very difficult to predict.”

    Chris Lampe, president of the Brewers of Pennsylvania and an owner of Weyerbacher Brewing Co. in Easton, said the National Brewers Association has been working hard to get the excise tax extended again.

    “I don’t know how it’s going to affect Weyerbacher this year,” Lampe said. “For brewers in general, it’s a win-win because you can use the credit to purchase equipment. If you purchase equipment you can roll money back into the business.”

    For one growing brewery, the news of the extension proved particularly welcoming.

    “It is so beneficial to craft brewing, to what we do,” said Fred Maier, co-founder and vice president of Susquehanna Brewing Co. in Pittston, Luzerne County.

    With 35 full- and part-time employees, and seven years in business, Maier has been hiring more employees and constantly buying equipment to advance the business.

    “We haven’t stopped buying new equipment,” he said. “We probably would have had to spend it regardless. We are always investing back into the brewery.”

    Susquehanna Brewing recently installed a can production line, which he said was a necessary investment.

    He wasn’t certain that the federal government would extend the excise tax and said he was thankful for what the brewers could get.

    “We were making plans on kissing it goodbye,” Maier said. “Until it’s made permanent, we don’t act like it’s permanent.”

    Posted in: Liquor Law, Licensing, Manufacturing and Distribution, Theodore J. Zeller III |

  • Nov 25, 2019Ted Zeller Named Pennsylvania Trailblazer

    Theodore J. Zeller III, a Member of law firm Norris McLaughlin, P.A., Chair of its Liquor Law, Licensing, Manufacturing, and Distribution Practice Group, has been named to The Legal Intelligencer’s 2019 list of “Pennsylvania Trailblazers.”

    Pennsylvania Trailblazers” is a special supplement of The Legal Intelligencer that recognizes professionals who have made a significant impact within the legal industry, specifically on the practice, policy, or technological advancements within their sector. Zeller was named because of his contributions that “helped make Pennsylvania the top U.S. producer of domestically-crafted beers and a leader of direct sales to consumers.”

    “It is an incredible honor to be recognized in this first edition of ‘Pennsylvania Trailblazers.’ I feel privileged to be able to merge my passion for Pennsylvania and its breweries with my practice at Norris McLaughlin. The alcohol industry is changing rapidly, and I look forward to those new challenges,” said Zeller.

    About Ted Zeller

    As longtime counsel to the Brewers of Pennsylvania (BOP) lobbying group, Zeller often advocates for changes in the liquor code. His client bases include restaurants, bars, caterers, breweries, distilleries, and wineries, and as his influence in the industry has grown, so has his client list, which also now includes D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc. and Victory Brewing Company. Large or small, Zeller offers clients critical business counsel in the alcohol regulatory field and, if needed, all other areas of counseling and support – whichever they need to grow their business.

    Growth often requires legislative change for the freedom to operate a business profitably. In 2011, his efforts began with the Pennsylvania Legislature which resulted in important changes, including an adjustment to brand registration fees for malt or brewed beverages. More recently, Zeller rewrote a portion of the Pennsylvania Liquor Code and Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board regulations for breweries to serve beer on their own premises directly to consumers. That led to the right for a brewery to sell its own beer for on-premises consumption from a brewery’s storage location, without any production requirement at that site.

    Zeller’s clients also count on him for the acquisition of liquor licenses and coordinating liquor license transactions in conjunction with deals and transactions handled by his team at the firm, such as real estate, business law, financing, tax law, intellectual property, and litigation.

    Read more about this 2019 Trailblazer honoree and check out his attorney bio for updates on his writing, speaking and press mentions.

    About Norris McLaughlin

    Norris McLaughlin’s liquor law attorneys handle all issues related to liquor law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, such as licensing, business planning and structuring, transactional counseling, and litigation. They also handle all aspects of federal regulatory permitting from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and trademark filings with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

    The firm’s liquor clients include brewers, distillers, wholesalers, distributors, restaurants, bars, hotels, stadiums, and other public venues. Many of these businesses are start-ups who are able to leverage the group’s experience into controlling initial costs.

    Norris McLaughlin’s liquor law attorneys are frequent lecturers in the area of liquor law and regularly contribute to the firm’s liquor law blog, Legal Liquor, highlighting legal and business issues in the industry.

    Posted in: Liquor Law, Licensing, Manufacturing and Distribution, News, Theodore J. Zeller III | Tags: ,

  • Aug 30, 2019Ted Zeller and Matt Andersen to Present at Brewers of PA Mid Atlantic Brewers Symposium

    Theodore J. Zeller III, a Member of law firm Norris McLaughlin, P.A., Chair of its Liquor Law Practice Group, and General Counsel to the Brewers of Pennsylvania (BOP), and Matthew B. Andersen, an Associate of the firm, will present “Pennsylvania Liquor Law Legal Update” on Friday, September 6, 8:45 – 9:30 a.m., at the Days Inn Penn State in State College. Zeller’s presentation will include participation from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue concerning the recent changes to the Pennsylvania Tax Code affecting breweries. Andersen will address changes to the laws affecting Pennsylvania breweries, including common regulatory mistakes to avoid in the operation of their businesses.

    “Pennsylvania is one of the best beer states, if not the best beer state, in the United States. It’s been my pleasure to be a part of this journey for breweries in Pennsylvania and I look forward to continuing our work, starting with providing fellow BOP members with this liquor law legal update, including the latest on the new sales tax law,” said Zeller.

    The update is part of the 5th Annual Mid Atlantic Brewers’ Symposium, “The Business of Brewing. The Science of Brewing. The Network of Brewers.,” to take place September 5-7. Also included will be educational seminars, a welcome reception with industry exhibitors, a networking happy hour at Liberty Craft House, and a Penn State Tailgate for BOP Brewery and Associate Members with state legislators. Discussion topics include sales and profits, finance and accounting, branding and marketing, diversity and inclusion, sustainability, fermentation, and liquor law. For more information and to register as a BOP member, non-member licensed brewer, or homebrewer, visit the BOP website.

    Zeller has extensive experience in liquor law, regulatory licensing, commercial transactions, real estate transactions, and litigation. He began his legal career as a litigator and has tried multiple cases in county and federal court, including jury trials, and hundreds of cases before arbitration panels, district justices, and administrative law judges. He was lead counsel in a beer rights case brought against the world’s largest brewers and now serves as counsel to D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc., among others.

    Zeller’s lobbying efforts helped to modernize parts of the Pennsylvania liquor code. He has authored numerous provisions that have been enacted into law. The bills helped small brewers by allowing more efficient and cost-effective brand registration, as well as altered the package laws for brewery licenses. Zeller also appeared before the House Liquor Committee with the Brewers of Pennsylvania in the Privatization Hearings. Most importantly, his efforts helped change brewery regulations to allow for tap rooms. Zeller authored the Malt Beverage Tax Excise Credit legislation and has written extensively about Acts 39 and 166. As counsel to the Brewers of Pennsylvania, he worked with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue to enact a new tax law, which imposes a fair sales and use tax on consumer sales by breweries, prior to the effective date of a new Tax Bulletin, which imposed a tax rate that was four times what was subsequently enacted and signed into law.

    Zeller counsels clients on the acquisition of liquor licenses and coordinates liquor license transactions with other practice areas, such as real estate, business law, financing, tax law, intellectual property, and litigation. He has helped numerous startup breweries, wineries, distilleries, and retailers. Known throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Zeller also represents beer interests on a national level and advises breweries and wholesalers on state regulatory matters involving beer distribution and franchise laws. He regularly prepares distribution agreements for his clients and coordinates state and federal licensing for manufacturing and national distribution.

    Zeller earned his B.A. from the University of Notre Dame in 1989 and his J.D. from The Dickinson School of Law of The Pennsylvania State University in 1992. As a volunteer, Zeller is Chairman of the Allentown Parking Authority and youth soccer coach.

    Andersen works with all tiers of the alcohol industry, advising manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers. He assists breweries, distilleries, wineries, wholesalers, distributors, restaurants, and hotels on obtaining and transferring liquor licenses, obtaining state and federal manufacturing permits and licensing, complying with federal/state liquor regulations and laws, providing transactional counseling, and defending citations and protests before the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. Andersen is experienced in drafting and negotiating distribution agreements between alcohol manufacturers and distributors to assist manufacturers in expanding the reach of their brands. Additionally, he has worked with nonprofit organizations and event planners on obtaining temporary alcohol permits for various events. Andersen takes pride in helping new and veteran alcohol businesses navigate the complex regulatory framework of state and federal liquor laws, as well as helping them establish and grow their brands on a state and national level.

    Andersen’s liquor law and business law practices often coincide in the legal counseling of start-up businesses entering the alcohol industry. He frequently advises clients from the idea stage to the operational stage of their alcohol business and is well versed in discussing the issues that come up in between. Whether it is, among other things, entity selection, drafting operational business documents, lease review, real estate acquisitions, zoning issues, and alcohol licensing/permitting, Andersen can assist you in turning your ideas into a successful business. He takes great pleasure in assisting dreamers, no matter what age, in preparing their business for future success.

    Andersen earned his B.A. from Pennsylvania State University in 2012 and his J.D. from Duquesne University School of Law in 2015. As a young professional, Andersen feels it is important to give back to the community. He is an assistant lacrosse coach at Northwestern Lehigh High School and enjoys teaching the knowledge, experience, and lessons taught to him throughout his life to the young people in our community.

    Posted in: Liquor Law, Licensing, Manufacturing and Distribution, Matthew B. Andersen, News, Theodore J. Zeller III | Tags: , ,

  • May 23, 2019Norris McLaughlin Attorneys to Speak on Brewery and Distillery Law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey

    Theodore J. Zeller III, Danielle M. DeFilippis, Andrew D. Linden, and Matthew B. Andersen, attorneys of law firm Norris McLaughlin, P.A., will present “Brewery and Distillery Law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey” at a training seminar hosted by the National Business Institute on Thursday, June 6, 9 a.m.– 4:30 p.m., at Homewood Suites by Hilton in Valley Forge.

    The speakers will present ways to help clients understand the complex world of alcohol manufacturing and distribution; minimize liability; and navigate the licensing, labeling and tax reporting challenges along the way. They will also discuss how to effectively protect client’s intellectual property, avoid legal landmines in advertising, and give valuable tips for negotiating distribution agreements. Topics include brewery and distillery business entity selection, formation, finance and insurance; licensing, labeling, and regulatory compliance; federal and state tax reporting requirements; negotiating/drafting brewery and distillery contracts; intellectual property and advertising; and ethics. For more information and to register, please click here.

    Zeller, a Member of the firm and Chair of its Liquor Law Practice Group, is experienced in liquor law, regulatory licensing, commercial transactions, real estate transactions, and litigation. He was lead counsel in a beer rights case brought against the world’s largest brewers and is General Counsel to Brewers of Pennsylvania.  Known throughout Pennsylvania, he also represents beer interests on a national level and advises breweries and wholesalers on state regulatory matters involving beer distribution and franchise laws. He regularly prepares distribution agreements for his clients, and coordinates state and federal licensing for manufacturing and national distribution. Zeller has tried multiple cases in county and federal court, including jury trials, and hundreds of cases before arbitration panels, district justices, and administrative law judges. He is General Counsel to D.G. Yuengling and Son, Inc.; represents alcohol interests in every category; and has helped numerous start-up breweries, wineries, distilleries, and retailers.  He currently serves as Chairman of the Allentown Parking Authority. Zeller is an author of the firm’s liquor law blog, Legal Liquor. He earned his J.D. from Pennsylvania State University Dickinson School of Law, and his B.A. from the University of Notre Dame.

    DeFilippis, a Member of the firm and Co-Chair of its Intellectual Property Law Practice Group, focuses her practice on intellectual property prosecution and litigation. She represents individual and corporate clients in all phases of litigation, from commencement through trial, and regularly serves as lead counsel in cases before federal and state courts, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and alternative resolution forums. She has represented clients in a variety of industries, most notably food and beverage, liquor, jewelry, and cosmetics. She has handled cases involving trademark and copyright infringement, false advertising, commercial disparagement, business torts, deceptive trade practices, Lanham Act claims, state and federal unfair competition laws, and other business disputes.  She is an author of the firm’s trademark, copyright, and unfair competition blog, More Than Your Ma®k.  DeFilippis received her J.D. from Seton Hall University School of Law and her B.A. from The Pennsylvania State University.

    Linden, a Member of the firm and Co-Chair of its Cannabis Law Industry Group, counsels alcoholic beverage manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers in all facets of their business. These include licensing and regulatory compliance, business formation, and product labeling. He has assisted craft breweries and distilleries with applications before the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control and retailers with applications before the local municipality. Linden provides guidance with TTB federal permitting laws, advises clients on federal and state labeling requirements and approval processes, and helps them navigate state distribution and beer franchise laws. He assists marijuana entrepreneurs, suppliers, growers, retailers, and investors to navigate complex statutory and regulatory schemes, including those related to permitting and licensing, such as initial applications, transfers, expansions, changes in ownership, and related disclosures, distribution, and general business operations such as sales, storage of product, and recordkeeping. He assists clients in all tiers of the distribution chain with compliance and business law issues. He is an author for the firm’s liquor law blog, Legal Liquor, and cannabis law blog, Legally Grown. Linden attended Seton Hall University School of Law, where he received his J.D., cum laude.  He earned his B.S., with honors, from Lehigh University.

    Andersen, an Associate of the firm, concentrates his practice on liquor law and business law. In his liquor law practice, he works with breweries, distilleries, wineries, wholesalers, distributors, restaurants, and hotels on obtaining and transferring liquor licenses, complying with liquor regulations and laws, providing transactional counseling, and defending citations and protests before the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.  Andersen represents national restaurant chains and hospitality companies with regard to their Pennsylvania locations in all aspects of their liquor licenses and acquisitional counseling.  He also works with numerous alcohol manufacturers to bring their dreams and ideas of operating a brewery, distillery, or winery to a reality, advising them through the planning, licensing and operation stages.  Additionally, Andersen has worked with licensees, nonprofit organizations, and event planners on obtaining temporary alcohol permits for events. He also is experienced in drafting and negotiating distribution agreements between alcohol manufacturers and distributors in many states to help them expand the reach of their brands.  He also works with alcohol manufacturers on obtaining federal Certificate of Label Approvals and formula approval for their products.  Andersen is an author of the firm’s liquor law blog, Legal Liquor, and won a JD Supra “Reader’s Choice Award” in 2018 for his contributions. He is an assistant lacrosse coach at Northwestern Lehigh High School. He earned his J.D. from Duquesne University School of Law, and his B.A. from The Pennsylvania State University.

    Posted in: Andrew D. Linden, Business Law, Danielle M. DeFilippis, Food, Beverage & Hospitality, Intellectual Property, Liquor Law, Licensing, Manufacturing and Distribution, Matthew B. Andersen, News, Theodore J. Zeller III | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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