SMALL wine producers will get better support thanks to new legislation that aims to improve the integrity of the wine equalisation tax rebate.
The equalisation measures will be introduced from July 1, 2018, and will tighten the eligibility for the rebate.
To be eligible for the wine equalisation tax rebate, winemakers must own 85 per cent of the grapes used to make their wine, have it packaged and branded in a container smaller than five litres and have their claims linked to the payment of the tax.
Rebate caps will also be reduced from $500,000 to $350,000.
The tighter measures are expected to reduce multiple rebate claims as the wine goes through its production and is sold into the export market.
Heathcote Winegrowers Association executive officer Chris Earl said the new structure would improve the integrity of local products.
“Local products will be strengthened in the eyes of traders and consumers,” he said.
“Certainly some wineries will have to readjust and like any reforms there will be some wins and losses but the structure is in place and has to be worked with.”
Mr Earl said the Heathcote wine region was involved in industry collaboration with the state and federal governments last year.
“We were one of six regions across Victoria that were very much involved in that process,” he said.
“Heathcote is a region that is very much based and founded on small producers and businesses.
“Collectively, the wine industry is the largest single most economic contributor in the region. What is coming into place will continue support for small businesses.”
Water Wheel Vineyards owner Peter Cumming said it would be business as usual for a majority of wineries in the Bendigo region.
“Any impact (around Bendigo) will be on the larger wineries that are on the threshold of sales for the rebate cap,” he said.
“We used to be able to claim $500,000 on the wine equalisation tax rebate now it’s $350,000.”
Mr Cumming said while the new measures may not be good for all wineries they were inevitable.
“The government had to act with the amount of WET being claimed and the number of claimants growing,” he said. “You can pick by the changes where the system was being wrought.”