Budget Tax Changes Welcomed By Indie Brewers

Last night's federal budget contained some good news for breweries as well as a win for fans of growlers, although the much-reported reduction in draught beer tax called for by the country's biggest breweries didn't make the cut. 

The Independent Brewers Association (IBA) says changes in the way alcohol excise needs to be reported by breweries, which was announced by the government ahead of the budget, are welcome. From July 1, 2023, businesses with an annual turnover of less than $50 million will be able to lodge and pay excise on a quarterly basis.

IBA CEO Kylie Lethbridge told The Crafty Pint that, presently, many breweries are required to pay excise monthly, if not weekly. She says the current system can be a processing nightmare for many breweries to manage, leading the association to push for it to be aligned with other tax payments to create less of a burden on members. 

“If your accountant is doing your BAS [business activity statements] then it makes sense to do your excise at the same time,” she says.

The change was among several the IBA had called for in its response to the Excise Deregulation Taskforce and the organisation's position that the time limit to apply for a refund for excise overpayments should be extended from one year to four has also made an appearance.

Some other changes the IBA had called for – such as the twice-yearly increase in rates excise that typically occurs in February and August – have not been addressed. However, Kylie says such announcements could come at a later date. Given a federal election is just weeks away, there will be plenty of opportunities for further policy revelations. 

“There was a whole lot more in the excise review that’s not relevant to a budget,” Kylie says. “So we’ll still see what happens in terms of what comes out of that review, so that’s really exciting.

“We do hope it’s the first of other announcements in relation to the excise process being more streamlined, and one that we would really love is that the cost is not increased or reassessed every six months.”

 

IBA CEO Kylie Lethbridge.

 

Tax reforms in this budget follow last year's significant announcement that the excise refund cap for breweries and distilleries would increase from $100,000 to $350,000 following a multi-year campaign by many of the country's small breweries.  

Despite being the subject of multiple news stories in the lead up to last night's budget, the reduction in beer draught excise called for by the Brewers Association (which represents Lion, CUB and Coopers) and the Australian Hotels Association as a way to support the hospo industry recover from the pandemic didn't appear.

However, breweries, venues and anyone with growlers and squealers on their shelves will be pleased with one announcement that did make the cut. The government has committed to amending excise law from July next year to allow hospitality venues to fill growlers with draught beer up to a limit of 10,000 litres a year.    

The change comes after the Australian Taxation Office continually extended such concessions due to the impact of COVID on venues' ability to trade; it follows the IBA calling for such changes to be made permanent in its response to the Excise Deregulation Taskforce and will be welcome news to those who grew accustomed to heading to their local for a refill of fresh beer during successive lockdowns. 

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