Tasmanian spirit producers argue for relief from excise

TASMANIAN spirit producers say tax relief for distillers would boost growth and employment. Tasmanian Whisky and Spirits Association president Mark Littler, pictured, said spirit producers were burdened by a tax levy that confined business growth and placed them at a "distinct disadvantage", compared to beer and wine. “Spirits producers are charged a taxation rate that is commensurate with the alcohol percentage of the product they sell and because the volume of alcohol found in premium spirits products is usually above 40per cent, the amount of excise tax applied is therefore very high," Mr Littler said. “Most TWSA members in Tasmania are small, start-up operations and the amount of taxation applied to their businesses inhibits cash flow and the capacity to reinvesting operations through infrastructure improvements and employment. “As a growing industry, confidence and the capacity to reinvest are essential to the viability of many of these operators in the long term. “Mr Littler praised the Federal Government for some tax rebates. “In fairness to the Federal Government, they have certainly recognised the taxation imbalance placed on our industry and over the last two years have instituted tax rebates for producers which have been very welcome," he said. Mr Littler said Tasmania was enjoying great coverage on the world stage for the quality of its whiskies, vodkas and gins. "We are making excellent single malt whiskies and white spirits that are being acknowledged globally through numerous award wins, including several successes by local distilleries in last week's World Whiskies Awards announced in London. “We want to continue these successes and any relaxation from a taxation perspective would certainly be a major fillip for producers. “Federal Labor member for Lyons Brian Mitchell said the level of taxation was unfair and must be reformed. “Australian craft distillers are amongst some of the best in the world but they are being smashed by some of the world's highest levels of excise taxation," he said.