As expected by many, the BC Budget for 2009 which was delivered yesterday did not contain any measures with immediately apparent impact on the wine industry. This was somewhat predictable since BC wine prices are now so high at retail that there really is no room for the government to try and extract additional revenue unless they reform the distribution system (more on that later). The one lingering issue is the implementation of the HST scheduled for next July. The combined HST rate on wine will be 12% which is actually 3% lower than the existing combined rates of 10% PST and 5% GST. As a result, there would be an actual reduction on the tax rates applicable to wine if the government does not act to increase retail prices by other means (such as increasing other fees or liquor board markups). The reduction in taxes is extremely small when compared to the usurious rates of liquor board markup (117%) and other fees. However, it will be interesting to see how the government handles the difference. Tax policy must be applied fairly and consistently as between imported and domestic wine. However, liquor board markup is currently not applied fairly so there is an interesting problem on the horizon. Maybe the government will just give consumers a break and let them have a 3% cut? Just wishful thinking.
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