Friday, October 21, 2011

Jack Daniel's Distillery Targeted for More Taxes

(Associated Press) For decades, Jack Daniel's whiskey has celebrated its small Tennessee hometown of Lynchburg with folksy, black-and-white advertisements urging folks to slow down and have a sip.

Now local officials want the maker of the world's top-selling whiskey to pay a bigger bar tab as they struggle with their budget. How does up to $5 million sound?

A measure approved by the Moore County Council asks the Tennessee legislature to authorize a local referendum on whether the distillery should pay that much in new taxes on the 500,000 barrels it fills with whiskey each year.

The 145-year-old distillery, tucked away on 1,700 hilly acres down the road from Lynchburg's quaint town square, now pays $1.5 million in local property taxes...

Distillery officials say they already do their civic and fiscal duty.

"We're paying our part, our fair share," said Tom Beam, senior vice president and general manager of production at the facility. He said the distillery has already helped the area in several ways, including assisting with renovations at the courthouse and a swimming pool.

"We operate as a partner with the county," he said.

He worries such a law would be a terrible precedent for other businesses in the state.
"Other counties could try to do the same thing, attacking businesses. It could be a job killer," he said.

Nevertheless, supporters of the referendum say Jack Daniel's still owes more.

"Lynchburg and the people of Moore County have been involved in the success of the Jack Daniel's brand; the value of the brand worldwide is due in no small measure because they have marketed our town and people successfully," said Charles Rogers, who has led the campaign for the new tax...