Aussies look to call time on NZ wine tax rebate

The Australian Government is moving to abolish a New Zealand wine tax rebate that would cost Kiwi winemakers tens of millions of dollars a year.

Winemakers' Federation of Australia chief executive Paul Evans said moves were under way to end a Wine Equalisation Tax rebate scheme for New Zealand wine producers.

Under the scheme more than 200 New Zealand wine companies have been claiming rebates of up to A$500,000 each (NZ$815,620), equating to about A$23 million in 2013 and up to A$25m a year in previous years.

But the scheme, which has been in place since 2006, may be scrapped following an Australian federal government tax review due to be released this year.

The review will pave the way for a complete upheaval of the Australian tax system, including increasing the rate and broadening the base of GST and increasing taxes on superannuation.

New Zealand Winegrowers chairman Steve Green said: "Over the years there has been a number of Australian wineries that think it's unfair the New Zealand wineries get the same rebate."

The rebate scheme was initially available to all Australian wineries but under the trans-Tasman Closer Economic Relationship the agreement was extended to New Zealand wineries, he said.

If the rebate scheme was abolished small New Zealand wineries dependant on the Australian market would be hit hard especially if the rebate was factored into their costings, he said.

There would be less impact on New Zealand's larger wineries because the rebates only equate to a small percentage of their sales, he said.

If the rebate was removed for New Zealand wine producers but not Australian then New Zealand wines would become less competitive in Australia, he said. 

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 - The Dominion Post

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