Vernon’s Tyler Dyck, CEO of Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery and president of the Craft Distillers Guild of B.C., has announced a petition campaign to help local craft distilleries getting the excise tax reduced to a comparable level with craft breweries. (Morning Star - file photo)

Vernon’s Tyler Dyck, CEO of Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery and president of the Craft Distillers Guild of B.C., has announced a petition campaign to help local craft distilleries getting the excise tax reduced to a comparable level with craft breweries. (Morning Star - file photo)

Okanagan distilleries seek par on excise tax

Lift Canadian Spirits is a petition campaign aimed at reducing the excise tax so distilleries can be comparable with craft breweries

Canada’s craft distilleries hope to have their spirits lifted.

Vernon’s Tyler Dyck, the CEO of Okanagan Spirits Craft Distilleries and president of the Craft Distillers Guild of B.C., says Canadian craft distilleries are at a severe disadvantage to their domestic and international counterparts, putting in jeopardy the very kinds of gathering places and economic drivers Canadian communities need following the pandemic.

The federal excise tax on the production of spirits in Canada is too high for craft distilleries operating in Canada to be competitive, invest in their communities and be resilient enough to recover from this pandemic.

Lift Canada’s Spirits (LCS) is a coalition of small to large distilleries aimed at Lifting Canada’s Spirits by reducing the excise tax on small volumes to be more in-line with domestic, craft beer production, and the small distilleries in the U.S.

Distilleries in the U.S. campaigned for tax improvements and got them.

A petition has started asking for support from the public to help reduce the excise tax.

“Reducing the excise would mean more job creation as well as other economic benefits for the communities surrounding the more than 200 distilleries across Canada, including our own right here in the Okanagan,” says Dyck, also Lift Canada’s Spirits spokesperson. “The U.S. recently reduced their excise tax on spirits and the economic gains they experienced as a result are too large to ignore. We pay seven times more in excise than they do, so you can see how that is pretty stifling on small distillers here at home.”

Craft distillers currently pay $3.81 per 750ml, while craft beer makers pay $0.02 per 750ml. Canadian small brewers have a tiered excise tax structure that small distillers are seeking; the expansion of small brewers across the country is evidence of its effectiveness.

There are approximately 225 craft distilleries in Canada, from coast to coast. Like small breweries and wineries, they focus on using local fruits, grains, and other produce found in the immediate area to craft something unique. They are both value-added local producers, as well as Canadian agri-tourism champions representing their local communities and Canada through their authentic farm-to-flask production.

It is anticipated that setting the excise tax to a less punitive level for small distillers would allow them to re-invest, leading to both higher local employment and larger demand for local agricultural products used to make their spirits.

“We are asking for your help to Lift Canada’s Spirits by reducing the excise tax leaving more revenue in the hands of Canada’s distillers,” says Meredith Schmidt, co-founder of Last Mountain Distillery in Lumsden, Sask. “Sign the petition. Talk to federal candidates in your riding and let them know we can do a lot better by simply extending the same sort of treatment to small distillers as they do to craft brewers and local wineries.”

Visit LiftCDNSpirits.ca to sign the petition, to get more information or to get involved.

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