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Kombucha CEO Urges Congress To Reconsider Tax Bill

Thomas & Sons Distillery/Brew Dr.'s Kombucha CEO Matt Thomas (left) with U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (right).
Thomas & Sons Distillery Twitter feed (used with permission)
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Thomas & Sons Distillery/Brew Dr.'s Kombucha CEO Matt Thomas (left) with U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (right).

A major producer of kombucha is asking Congress to reconsider a bill aimed at revising federal excise taxes and regulations on companies that make the fermented tea drink.  

Thomas & Sons Distillery/Brew Dr.'s Kombucha CEO Matt Thomas (left) with U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (right).
Credit Thomas & Sons Distillery Twitter feed (used with permission)
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Thomas & Sons Distillery/Brew Dr.'s Kombucha CEO Matt Thomas (left) with U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (right).

The bill would raise the applicable alcohol-by-volume limit from 0.5 percent to 1.25 percent.  Its sponsors include Oregon Senator Ron Wyden.  The gist is to keep kombucha from being taxed the same as beverages with greater alcohol content.

Matt Thomas is CEO of Brew Doctor’sKombuchabased in Portland.   He says he’s concerned that if approved, the“KombuchaAct” could encourage companies to make more potent, stronger forms of the drink.

 “You know, on-duty medical professionals, kids, and recovering alcoholics are all customers, they all drinkkombucha," says Thomas.  

"I don’t think we can responsibly offer them 12 to 16-fluid ounces ofkombuchawith one and a quarter percent alcohol and not expect some kind of negative consequences.”  

FlickrJustinGrimes.jpg
Credit Justin Grimes / Flickr.com
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Flickr.com

Thomas says it’s possible to make kombucha that doesn’t reach the 0.5 percent level, and he’s willing to help fellow makers do that.  He says he’s reached out to Senator Wyden’s office to visit his plant and discuss the bill in greater detail.

Copyright 2017 KLCC

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. He is a 20-year reporter who has worked at NPR, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including three Edward R. Murrow Awards and the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award in 2012.