QUEBEC — Quebec finance minister Carlos Leitão has tabled a budget for the 2014/2015 year that will level the playing field between restaurants and liquor stores when it comes to tax rates on alcohol.
Alcoholic beverages sold in Quebec are currently subjected to a higher or lower tax rate based on the type of product and place of consumption, whether that’s at home via the grocery store, the Société des Alcools du Québec (SAQ), convenience stores or in restaurants. For example, consumers pay 50 cents per litre for beer consumed at home, but that rises to 82 cents per litre when it’s consumed at a restaurant. Come late summer that will no longer be the case. “I am announcing the standardization of the tax rates respecting alcoholic beverages sold for consumption at home and sold in restaurants and bars for consumption on-site, as of August 1, 2014,” said Leitão, in the budget document.
Now, tax on beer purchased in bars and restaurants will drop from 82 cents per litre to 63 cents per litre, and for wine and spirits, the tax will drop from $2.47 per litre to $1.40 per litre. “Restaurants Canada is very happy with this long-awaited decision, especially after five months of work on the committee to review alcohol practices,” said Jean Lefebvre, VP of Quebec at Restaurants Canada. “Grocers and convenience stores have become, in recent years, competitors to restaurants, with ready-to-eat meals and their own lines of wines. It was more than time that taxes related to beer, wine and spirits were the same for all in the market.”