The owners of Nova Scotia's U-vint stores have until Monday to tell the provincial government what they think of a new tax the government is considering.
Nova Scotia's U-vints may have to charge $0.75 per litre for wine brewed in -store if the Nova Scotia government adopts the P.E.I. regulations currently under consideration.
On a typical 23-litre kit that amounts to an extra $17.50 in tax — that’s on top of the $7.50 per cent HST for a total of $25 extra in tax.
P.E.I. is the only province to levy a tax and the proposal came as a surprise to some in Nova Scotia’s U-vint business where there are only 16 to 20 stores.
Stephen Haynes, owner of the chain of seven Noble Grape stores that sell wine kits and provides on-site winemaking, said the tax would hurt his business.
“We felt quite confident at the time that there wouldn’t be prohibitive taxes just the way the government — when they were in opposition — was so for this industry,” said Haynes.
“We’re hopeful that we can come up with some solutions with the government.”
Haynes says he recently spent $100,000 dollars upgrading his operations, which charge customers $50 to rent space to make wine.
Nova Scotia Finance Minister Diana Whalen was non-committal on the tax.
“Whether or not we put a levy on it is really going to depend upon the kind of consultations and what we hear back from stakeholders,” she said.
Haynes said when he and others in the industry sit down with Whalen later this month, they'll explain to her why they feel this tax will be damaging to their business.
The government plans to move quickly, with new U-vint regulations to be passed in the spring.
The right to make beer and wine in so-called U-vint stores flared up a year ago, when the province's Crown-owned liquor agency sought a court order to prevent the owners of Wine Kitz Halifax and Water 'n' Wine in New Glasgow from producing wine and beer in their shops.
The previous New Democratic government later ordered the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation to drop the case in the face of a growing public backlash.