The federal government has moved to end 'gaming' of wine industry assistance with cuts to rebates and tightening of eligibility for the WET rebate.
Source:
AAP
3 May 2016 - 7:50 PM 

The federal government has moved to end 'gaming' of wine industry assistance with cuts to rebates and tightening of eligibility for the Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) rebate.

The rebate will be cut from its current $500,000 to $350,000 by July 1, 2017 and further to $290,000 a year later.

Wine producers wanting to claim the rebate will also have to own a winery or have a long-term lease on one, and sell packaged, branded wine domestically under new eligibility criteria.

The measure will please wine makers and grape growers who have pushed for reform.

The WET rebate currently gives a full rebate on the 29 per cent rate at which wine is taxed - less than beer and spirits - to wholesalers even if they do not incur a WET liability.

"The wine industry has called for reform of the WET rebate based on their concern it has moved beyond the original intent and is being gamed by some to the detriment of the wine industry," Assistant Treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer said.

The Winemakers Federation of Australia has long called for reform of the WET, and a recent Senate inquiry heard how the system was being rorted by wine cellar door operators and growers who went into wine making so they could claim the rebate.

The burgeoning Australian whisky and gin industries have also received a charge with the extension of an excise refund scheme.

The refund scheme, which returns 60 per cent of excise to distillers, up to a cap of $30,000 per year, will be extended to domestic whisky, gin, vodka, liqueur and some cider producers.

The change will benefit about 100 Australian distilleries, including a number of start-ups in Tasmania.

In other measures, the Australian Wine and Grape Authority will receive $50 million over four years to promote local wines overseas and wine tourism in Australia.