In a previous article, we explained why Switzerland had the highest number of breweries. This is "thanks" to its administration, which even makes very small amateur breweries subject to registration and therefore to taxation. But can we really be happy about that?
According to figures from the Federal Department of Customs, in 2018 there were 1021 breweries in Switzerland. By 2019, this figure has already increased drastically (~1117). Also according to 2018 figures, our domestic breweries produced 3,659,000 hectolitres of beer, while 1,036,000 hectolitres of beer were imported. This generated 114,585 million in tax revenues.
Of these more than 1000 breweries, about 80 breweries produced 99% of the indigenous production. So, roughly speaking, if the obligation to register were limited to brewers who produced 99% of the quantity produced, Switzerland would end up with 1 brewery for every 90,000 inhabitants, which would take us off the podium (of the highest number of breweries per capita).
Would it not make sense to raise the maximum tax-free production threshold and give microbreweries a break? The tax manna they generate is ridiculously low. And if the money really ran out, we could very slightly increase the tax on the largest breweries. This would take into account economies of scale; the cost of production per litre is much lower when produced in large quantities, which implies that the beer tax has a lesser influence on the total cost of beer produced by large producers. Thus, the tax borne by small breweries has a severe impact on their production costs.
Moreover, we can acknowledge the efforts of the legislator, who acknowledged the problem in the 2007 Beer Act. The application of a degressive rate for'small' productions has been introduced. For breweries producing between 4 and 16,000 hl, the tax is reduced to 40% and then gradually increases from 16,000 hl. It is only from 55'000 hl that the tax is applied at 100%. This is already a step in the right direction, but it does not solve the problem of microbreweries, which find themselves in competition with artisanal beer producers with much larger capacities, but whose production remains below the 16,000 hl threshold (e.g. Fleur du Malt 120 hl... Dr. Gabs 11,000 hl). Breweries such as Boxer producing 60,000 hl are also tending to be penalized compared to "very large breweries".
Perhaps taxation based on an exponential curve would finally put an end to these threshold effects, while taking into account the phenomenon of economies of scale...
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