The US is about to repeal a 19th century special tax on businesses that make, distribute, sell or deliver alcohol products.

The congressionally-approved 'Highway Bill' will remove the Special Occupational Tax (SOT), which had already been suspended until July 2008. To comply with the SOT, licensed beverage retailers were required to pay US$250 per location annually, while wholesalers paid double that amount.

American wineries with more than US$500,000 in annual sales paid a US$1,000 levy, while smaller operations were hit with a US$500 bill. Over 90% of all SOT revenue comes from retailers, hitting smaller stores especially hard.

The tax was originally established in the 1860s, to generate revenue to help pay for the country's Civil War.