By Andy Young

While Cider Australia has welcomed the moves to tighten eligibility for the Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) rebate, the industry body said it is disappointed the rebate cap will be reduced.

In his first Federal Budget this week, Treasurer Scott Morrison announced changes to the WET rebate. The Government announced that from 1 July 2019 eligibility criteria will be tightened to require claimants to own a winery or have a long term lease over a winery and sell packaged, branded wine domestically. The changes are being made to deter artificial business structuring and multiple rebate claims. 

Cider Australia said that the WET rebate scheme provides rebates to cider producers as well as grape wine producers and is crucial to the viability of the domestic cider industry and the growers and local communities it supports.

Cider Australia president Sam Reid said: “The cider industry has advocated changes for some time and welcomes stronger eligibility criteria and the closing of loopholes to preserve the original intent of the scheme."

The Treasurer also announced that the annual rebate cap will be reduced over the next two years, from $500,000 to $350,000 on 1 July 2017 and $290,000 on 1 July 2018. 

Reid added: “Cider Australia does not support a reduction in the rebate cap while we don’t have a level playing field in labelling.

“It is unfair to reduce support for smaller craft producers on one side of the ledger when nothing is being done on the other side to level the playing field and clearly identify on shelf or on pack the low cost producers who are importing cheap apple concentrate.

“Cider Australia calls for a share of the $300 million in projected savings to be diverted to cider industry development to assist producers to diversify and improve quality in their products. 

“A reduction in the cap will disproportionately impact the smaller, niche producers who are driving innovation and securing emerging opportunities to export cider, Reid said.

Cider Australia said that it hopes to participate in further consultation on eligibility criteria to ensure the definition of a winery "appropriately captures cider businesses".

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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