Tax compromise a win for wineries

Zach RelphHarvey-Waroona Reporter

Presisent lobbying has forced the Federal Government to retract its Wine Equalisation Tax reform, in a win for WA’s boutique cellar doors.

Industry representatives had been in discussions with Government members since the reform was unveiled in May’s Budget.

It was set to cut the winemakers’ rebate cap from $500,000 to $350,000 as of July 1 next year, with plans to further reduce the rebate to $290,000 12 months later.

Under the revised tax, the rebate will be cut to $350,000 and not be implemented until July 1, 2018.

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Geographe Wine Region president Simon Holthouse welcomed the changes and said it would benefit the South West’s small-scale winemakers.

“WA has many relatively small producers of high-end premium wine and they were likely to be most affected by the original proposal,” Mr Holthouse said.

“The definition of a producer, which is basically someone who owns the grapes at the crush and has a legitimate label, was a critical aspect.

“It ensures small producers in particular are not disadvantaged. Overall, the outcome is very good.”

The new proposal also includes a one-off grant initiative for producers who exceed the $350,000 rebate cap with $100,000 per annum.

The new proposal also includes a grant scheme to provide up to $100,000 per annum to producers who exceed the $350,000 rebate cap

Drakesbrook Wines managing director and viticulturist Bernie Worthington said he was glad the Government listened to industry pleas in an effort to address boutique winemakers’ concerns.

“The outcome, compared to what it might have been, is particularly good for small producers with cellar doors – common sense has prevailed,” Mr Worthington said.

“It’ll also make it more difficult for opportunists who used loopholes in the previous legislation.

“If it had fallen in the way it looked as if it was going to fall it would have been disastrous.”

Both Mr Holthouse and Mr Worthington thanked Federal Government members, including Forrest MHR Nola Marino and Canning MHR Andrew Hastie, for their support of the industry during the process.

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