Grapevine

Pro-Small Business Legislation Would Aid East End Wineries

The New York State Legislature has approved legislation to ease the burden on small non-farm wineries. The bill exempts non-farm wineries producing less than 150,000 gallons of wine annually from filing sales information regarding transactions with vendors who are subject to sales tax.

“Non-farm wineries are small operations that have struggled to comply with this needless filing requirement,” said Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. of Sag Harbor. “They are important members of our community, essential to the economy and are fundamental in maintaining the character of the East End.”

Under state law, all beer wine, and liquor wholesalers are required to report sales made to restaurants, bars and other retailers to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. Because of their restricted size, it is difficult for many non-farm wineries to absorb the cost of complying with the annual filing requirement, according to Thiele.

Craft breweries and farm wineries were also required to report such information until Senator Ken LaValle of Port Jefferson and Thiele, who is also chair of the assembly’s small business committee, passed legislation in 2012 to exclude them. Now, non-farm wineries are among those exempt from filing—assuming Governor Andrew Cuomo signs the bill into law.

Some felt it was only a matter of time until non-farm wineries gained exemption status.

Steven Bate, the executive director of the Long Island Wine Council, said, “We’re thrilled at the news that this bill has passed. This is something we’ve been hoping for since the same treatment was accorded to farm wineries in 2012.”

Exemption from tax filing requirements allows small-business owners to concentrate their efforts on production, according to the lawmakers. “It’s critical that we continue to support Long Island wineries,” LaValle said. “They are important members of our community, essential to the economy and are fundamental in maintaining the character of the East End. Lessening state administrative burdens placed upon smaller operations will enable them to continue to produce the wines that we all enjoy, and grow their businesses.”

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