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Hop to it: Nova Scotia craft brewers want government to balance booze taxes
Time:14 Dec 2015
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Nova Scotia?ˉs craft breweries want to know why they?ˉre being taxed more than craft distillers and wineries.

?°We?ˉre paying more than double what wine and craft distillers are,?± said Boxing Rock Brewing Co. owner and Craft Brewers Association of Nova Scotia president Emily Tipton on Thursday.

She?ˉs referring to the remittance tax she and the other brewers pay to the NSLC when they sell products directly to customers, meaning sales at their own shops, private liquor stores, and bars.

Craft breweries pay 50 cents for every litre they sell directly. Craft distillers and wineries pay five per cent of wholesale, translating to about 20 cents per litre.

Tipton said that means if she sells a 20-litre keg to a bar for $100, she pays $10 in tax. If she paid five per cent of wholesale - like distillers and wineries - she said that number would drop to $4.

?°That?ˉs money that?ˉs being taxed from us that we would be otherwise investing in our businesses,?± she said.

For Tipton, that investment would mean hiring a new employee.

For Brian Titus, owner of Garrison Brewing Co., and vice president of the Craft Brewers Association of Nova Scotia, it could mean expanding his exports.

For a company just starting out, Titus said, ?°it could be life or death.?±

Garrison Brewing Co. brewer Jon Harris checks the levels on a batch of the company's Nut Brown Ale at the production plant on Thursday.


Garrison Brewing Co. brewer Jon Harris checks the levels on a batch of the company's Nut Brown Ale at the production plant on Thursday.

Titus has been in the craft beer industry since 1997, but he said the newer breweries are the ones who?ˉve created the explosion in the industry in the past five years, with annual growth of up to 25 per cent.

?°This is real stuff, it?ˉs not just artificially propped up by the government,?± he said.

But Titus understands ?°these aren?ˉt flush times.?±

?°Everybody can put their hand out, but you need to back that up with why it?ˉs a good investment,?± he said.

Tipton said the NSLC has verified numbers that show changing the tax to five per cent of wholesale would cost the government $300,000.

?°That?ˉs going to be made up very quickly, and then some,?± Titus said. ?°This is a little investment in the future, and the future is very, very bright right now for craft breweries.?±

Tipton has been fighting just to get a chance to pitch this to the government since last year, and has been waiting for a meeting with finance minister Randy Delorey since October.

?°I?ˉm still waiting for that meeting, and I haven?ˉt heard anything else since,?± she said.

A statement from the department says that meeting is coming next year.

?°We are aware of the industry?ˉs concerns and intend to meet and discuss the issue with the association in the New Year,?± a spokesperson wrote in an email.

?°They haven?ˉt done anything for us yet, but I?ˉm trying to be patient,?± Tipton said.

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