Campaign to lift spirits

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Canada’s craft distillers have had it with what they see as an unfair federal excise tax on spirits production, and they just won’t take it any more.

They have created a coalition called Lift Canada’s Spirits and have launched a petition urging the federal government to make the excise tax on small volumes more in line with that on domestic craft beer production—and, significantly, with what small U.S. distilleries pay.

Canada’s 200-plus craft distillers currently pay $3.81 in excise tax per 750 mL, while craft beer makers pay $0.02 for the same amount. Meanwhile, across the border, American distillers recently campaigned successfully for tax improvements and as a result, Canadian distillers now pay seven times what their American counterparts do, putting them at an enormous competitive disadvantage.

“Reducing the excise would mean more job creation as well as other economic benefits for the communities surrounding the more than 200 distilleries across Canada, including our own right here in the Okanagan,” says Tyler Dyck, Lift Canada’s Spirits spokesperson, president of the Craft Distillers Guild of B.C. and CEO of Okanagan Spirits Craft Distilleries.

Like small breweries and wineries, craft distilleries use local fruits, grains and other produce, and champion regional agri-tourism. It is anticipated that setting the excise tax to a less punitive level would lead to both higher local employment and larger demand for local agricultural products.

For more info or to sign the petition, visit

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