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BC Wine Taxes & Prices PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mark Hicken   
Thursday, 14 August 2008 23:58

Most of the taxes, government markups and government fees on wine in BC are hidden so that it is impossible to see how much tax (including hidden tax) you are really paying on a bottle of wine. The rates also vary greatly depending upon where you bought the wine and what kind of wine it is. For example, you will pay the least tax on a bottle of BC wine that you purchase either direct from the winery or from a private wine store (about 12% total tax). You will pay the most tax on a lower priced bottle of imported wine that you purchase from a government liquor store (135% or more tax).

Here is a short summary of ways to shop smartly for wine and pay less tax:

1. For Non-BC Wine: Buy Outside BC. BC's tax rates are absurdly high on non-BC wine. As a result, if you are going on a trip, make sure you maximize your duty-free purchases.

2. For BC Wine: Buy Direct From the Winery, from VQA stores, or from Private Wine Stores. If you buy BC wine from government liquor stores, you will be paying far more tax to the government and will be shortchanging the winery.

3. For Non-BC Wine: Buy from Private Wine Stores. If you buy imported wine from government liquor stores, you will be paying more tax to the government.

4. Do Not Buy "Cellared in Canada" Wines. These wines are sometimes labelled as "Cellared in Canada" and sometimes labelled as "A blend of international and domestic wines". They are usually packaged and displayed as if they were BC or Canadian wines. They are NOT. These wines are made by importing cheap bulk wine or juice from outside Canada and then bottling it here usually with little or no domestic wine (in Ontario, some domestic wine is required to be included in the blend, in BC there is no such requirement). The government makes a huge amount of tax revenue from this category.

If you want more detail on why the above strategies work, read through the following articles:

BC Liquor Store Wine Price Calculator: this calculator provides an estimate of the wholesale price, LDB markup and taxes for imported wine based on the retail cost in BC Liquor Stores.

How to Pay Less Tax When Buying Wine in BC: article explains the bizarre differences in tax rates between different retail channels for wine ... you can pay 15% tax or 135% tax, your choice!

Discussion of BC Wine Taxes: article explains the hidden taxes on wine in BC.

As noted above, BC has a bizarre system where you will pay more money to the government depending upon what type of wine you buy and where you buy it. The charts below show you the approximate breakdown of where your money goes when you buy a $15 bottle of wine in different retail channels. The first chart is for BC wine ...

Where Your Money Goes - Buying BC Wine in Different Retail Channels


The second chart is for imported (non-BC) wine. As you cannot buy imported wine direct from the winery or in VQA stores, these channels are not shown.

Where Your Money Goes - Buying Imported Wine in Different Retail Channels


Here are some recent price comparisons for wine to show you how the BC system is out of line with neighouring jurisdictions.

Francis Coppola Black Label Claret $29.99 $15.50 2008-10-17
Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon $24.99 $10.74 2008-09-04
Erath Oregon Pinot Noir $32.95 $14.64 2008-08-29
Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot $22.01 $16.58 2009-02-07
Yellow Tail Shiraz $12.99 $10.07 2009-02-07
Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet $17.99 $14.58 2009-02-07
Penfolds Rawsons Retreat Shiraz Cab $12.01 $9.54 2009-02-07
Beringer Founders Estate Merlot $19.99 $15.53 2009-02-07
Le Vielle Ferme - Cotes de Ventoux Red $12.99 $10.07 2009-02-07
Perrin Reserve - Red $16.99 $11.75 2009-02-07
Allegrini Palazzo Delle Torre - Red $29.99 $20.93 2009-06-17
Blackstone Merlot $15.99 $9.83 2009-06-17
Torii Mor Pinot Noir $42.00 $24.63 2009-06-17
Taittinger Champagne $64.99 $43.12 2009-06-17
Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet $49.99 $20.60 2009-12-17
Heartland Cabernet $22.99 $11.93 2009-12-17
Mondavi Napa Cabernet $39.99 $22.90 2009-12-17
Domaine Chandon Brut $23.99 $16.22 2009-12-17
Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling $15.99 $5.93 2010-03-12
Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet $19.99 $8.63 2010-04-08
Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label $69.00 $39.90 2010-05-03
J. Lohr Riverstone Chardonnay $22.99 $9.71 2010-05-03
Dr. Loosen Dr. L Riesling $18.99 $10.75 2010-05-03
Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling $15.99 $6.66 2010-08-16


All prices are converted to CDN dollars and include all applicable taxes.

What's the difference in pricing? Taxes - BC charges some of the highest taxes on imported wine in the world.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 25 August 2010 21:07 )