Craft brewers hopping mad over 900pc tax hike
CRAFT brewers are hopping mad over a secret Queensland Government tax slug that could force them to raise the costs of their tasty creations.
Multiple brewers have received notices from their councils informing them of an almost 900 per cent increase in the state's emergency management levy - from $527.80 last year to $5224.20 this financial year.
It followed the creation of a new fire levy category for breweries based on their gross floor space that was designed to stop smaller operations being whacked with the top $90,000 levy.
It comes less than a year after the Government launched a craft beer strategy designed to help grow the burgeoning industry.
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said the fee hike could force the industry to raise its prices.
"We should be raising a glass to our craft breweries instead of squeezing them dry with outrageous tax increases," Ms Frecklington said.
"Brewers will have to put up prices or go out of business."
Opposition Small Business spokeswoman Fiona Simpson called for the Government to immediately overturn the levy change.
"Labor must have had their beer goggles on when they dreamt this up," Ms Simpson said.
A Government spokeswoman, however, denied the State was to blame for the hike, putting the onus on to councils and business owners.
"Local councils are conducting audits to ensure that the levy is being applied correctly," she said.
"The audit revealed that some independent breweries had been charged the wrong levy.
"Councils are now correcting this.
"It's important that business owners check with their local council that their property has been correctly classified.
"We urge affected brewers to talk with our EML unit after they've spoken with their local council and we will consider their concerns on a case by case basis."
Independent Brewers Association convener and Ballistic Beer co founder, David Kitchen, said the hike could prove utterly crippling for the industry, causing job cuts or price hikes.
"They snuck it through in the regulations and then left it to councils to do the dirty work," he said.
"For me, what this is potentially going to cost me in the next year is that I'll to have to sell 10,000 more cans of beer just to stay exactly where I am now.
"That kills growth, it kills any sort of capital investment."
"There is one part of the government, most notably Cameron Dick and Shannon Fentiman, who are doing excellent things to support the craft beer strategy and small business and then there are other parts of the government that seem to be spending money and then trying to recoup that money on the sly and not in a manner that actually supports the growth of small business.
"I'm not adverse to paying a fire levy. I need firemen as well as everyone else does. This has got nothing to do with the cost of keeping my property safe and everything to do with filling a hole in the budget."
Greg Curran, who owns the Sunshine Coast Brewery with his wife Brigid, said any cost that goes up "tenfold" was going to impact small businesses.
"The annoying thing is small business, whether it's a brewery or any small business, every time you turn around someone's increasing their cost to you, especially with the State Government or the Local Government," he said.
"The fact there was no consultation, there was no explanation.
"They haven't explained why they've targeted breweries.
"You've got to sell a lot of beer to make $5000 and it's just getting tougher and tougher."
Mr Curran said he hoped the Government would revise the levy.
"I guess we've got to look at, like normal when ingredients or any costs go up, you've got to look at increasing your price and I don't want to do that because the 1st of August we have an increase in our excise which we pay the ATO," he said.