Raimondo goes to brewery and cuts taxes for small businesses

PAWTUCKET – Continuing her platform to make Rhode Island more “business-friendly,” Gov. Gina M. Raimondo signed bills Thursday to cut taxes and fees for brewers, restaurants and other small businesses.

Raimondo signed the Small Business Friendliness Omnibus package during a ceremony at the Foolproof brewery in Pawtucket.

The legislation eliminates “a number of unnecessary and duplicative licenses,” a statement from Raimondo’s office reads, “removes small application fees, and consolidates or eliminates fees for secondary business activities, including an extra fee that restaurants pay to serve ice cream and other frozen desserts.”

The omnibus package also eliminates a yearly $1,000 bond requirement for brewers.

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In addition, the governor signed another bill to reduce the state’s alcoholic beverage manufacturing and wholesale licensing fee from $3,000 to $500.

Also Thursday, Raimondo celebrated the end of the state’s so-called “keg tax.” The tax was eliminated as part of state budget legislation she signed last month. It ends the requirement for brewers in Rhode Island to pay sales tax on kegs that they buy to fill with beer and then sell to distributors.

Earlier in her term, Raimondo signed legislation that allows brewers to sell more beer directly to customers.

“Over the last three and a half years, Rhode Island has made it easier for small-business owners and that’s worth toasting,” Raimondo said. “These reforms build on our previous work – they cut red tape, cut regulations and cut taxes.”

Ending the keg tax has been a priority for the Rhode Island Brewers Guild.

“The removal of this burdensome tax aligns our beer laws more closely with those of neighboring New England states and makes it easier for Foolproof and other breweries to invest in our businesses and grow,” said Nick Garrison, president and founder of Foolproof Brewing Co. LLC.

The governor also touted reforms to reduce government paperwork for certain businesses.

In Pawtucket, for example, opening a restaurant once required 12 forms and at least 11 visits to City Hall, her office said, but after the governor’s small-business reforms and collaboration with municipal leaders, it now requires only four forms that can be submitted by computer.

Scott Blake is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Blake@pbn.com.