Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery is named Distillery of the Year at 2020 World Spirits Awards in Europe. (Submitted Photo)

Reform taxes to bolster job growth in distilling: Vernon chamber says

Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce urges residents to push feds for tax reform

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce is asking residents in the North Okanagan to push Ottawa to implement tax reforms that would promote job growth and local economies.

Canadian distilleries started a petition Wednesday, Aug. 12, calling on political parties to lobby the federal government to immediately match excise parity with the 2017 small distillers excise agreement in the United States.

The agreement in the U.S. was made in attempt to stimulate job growth and agricultural production by reducing taxes on the first small amount of alcohol produced by a domestic distillery — the first 100,000 proof gallons.

Since the implementation in 2017, nearly 1,000 new distilleries have popped up and tens of thousands of jobs have been created as a result.

Meanwhile, Canada has an escalator tax attached to the tax and domestic distillers pay $12.61 per litre, compared to around $1.77/litre paid in the U.S. This has made it difficult for Canadian distillers to compete, the chamber said.

“We must allow entrepreneurs the opportunity to not only survive but to thrive,” said chamber president Krystin Kempton. “In turn, they give back to our communities by creating employment, using local fruits and grains and bolstering agri-tourism.”

The chamber said abolishing this tax hurdle is increasingly important amid the global pandemic of COVID-19.

“Economic development is always important, but it is critical as the North Okanagan and communities across Canada navigate the post-COVID world,” Kempton said.

“Now is the time to give Canadians positive news.”

The campaign has been embraced by business and agricultural organizations.

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce’s resolution to urge the feds to match the U.S.’s policy received support from delegates at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce conference in September 2019.

The petition from Canadian distillers can be found online at change.org.

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