Oregon Lawmakers Propose Removing Alcohol Taxes and Regulations on Kombucha

Walden says the probiotic drink should be treated more like yogurt than wine or beer.

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Portland) and Greg Walden (R-Hood River) on Thursday proposed a bill that would strip alcohol taxes from kombucha.

OPB first reported the legislation, titled the Keeping our Manufacturers from Being Unfairly Taxed while Championing Health Act, or KOMBUCHA.

Currently, kombucha, a fermented tea product, is treated like an alcoholic beverage due to trace amounts of alcohol (around 0.5 percent by volume) present in the drink.

Wyden, Walden and Blumenauer say the negligible alcohol content in the drink makes the tax antiquated and argue eliminating it will help the market grow.

"Kombucha is one the fastest growing beverage industries in the world, with an expected economic impact of $1.2 billion by 2020," Blumenauer says in a statement. "This legislation is a common sense solution that would lift unnecessary tax burdens and instead support emerging small businesses in Oregon and across the country."

In addition to lifting alcohol taxes and regulations on kombucha, the bill would increase the permissible amount of alcohol present in the drink from 0.5 percent to 1.25 percent by-volume.

Wyden introduced the act two years ago, but it did not get a Senate vote.

Walden says in a statement that the probiotic drink should be treated more like yogurt than wine or beer.

"I've met with kombucha manufacturers in Oregon who have told me how this outdated tax is holding back their industry," he says. "This bill will help these small businesses keep more of their hard earned money to reinvest in their businesses and create jobs in our communities."