NEWS

PQ delays alcohol tax deadline

12/15/2012 02:29 EST | Updated 02/14/2013 05:12 EST
The Quebec government is giving bar and restaurant owners more time to pay a retroactive tax on alcohol.

Last month, people in the service industry were furious when the Parti Québécois announced a retroactive 25 per cent tax increase for alcohol in bars and restaurants.

The PQ said the tax would apply retroactively to all bottles in stock, effectively forcing all business owners to take inventory on the same night that the new tax was announced.

After protests and pleas from business owners, the government has reconsidered.

Owners now have until Nov. 21, 2013 — a year after the budget was announced — to pay the tax increase on alcohol they currently have in stock.

Peter Sergakis, the president of the Quebec bartender's union, was one of the individuals who spoke out when the tax was first announced. He said the deadline extension is not the solution bar owners were hoping for.

Sergakis said he doesn't think he should have to pay extra taxes for alcohol that has already been purchased. Sergakis said that asking customers to make up for the increase isn't an option.

"We cannot increase our prices. We're lowering our prices. Because the consumer [doesn't] have money as much as before," he said.

Tax is 'fundamentally unjust'

Sergakis said that extending the payment deadline to a year from now won't solve the problem.

"We're not going to stop [protesting]. We're not going to accept it I'm telling you," he said.

Sergakis said he will write to the government on Monday.

The Quebec government could not be reached for comment today. At the time the budget was announced, Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau said the retroactive tax was not unusual.

"We proceeded as we always did. There's nothing new," he said.

Sandy White, the president of the Quebec Bar Owners' Association, said the retroactive taxes are unfair.

"They're a fundementally unjust measure … in an industry that's really struggling."

According to White, the tax will be particularly difficult for small business owners who are operating on tight budgets.

White said he is consulting with lawyers about filing a potential class action lawsuit against the government.

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