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Canadian Taxpayers Federation going to court to stand up for taxpayers and beer drinkers

January 23, 2019
Canadian Taxpayers Federation going to court to stand up for taxpayers and beer drinkers

OTTAWA, ON: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is going to court to defend taxpayers (and beer drinkers) as an intervener in the appeal of Steam Whistle v. Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, in which two out-of-province beer companies successfully challenged unconstitutional legislation imposed by the Alberta government.

“The Alberta government collected $2 million in beer taxes based on an unconstitutional law, but it doesn’t want to give the money back even after the legislation has been struck down,” said CTF Federal Director Aaron Wudrick. “When Canadians get overcharged by government, the government should have to give back the money and we’re going to court to defend that principle.”

The CTF is intervening on appeal to ensure that the correct remedy is applied, namely that the Alberta government is required to return the money it taxed using an unconstitutional law.

In June 2018, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench ruled that two changes to mark-up rates on craft beer produced outside Alberta were unconstitutional. The mark-up regime had different rates applied to different regions, along with a grant for Alberta brewers to offset the mark-up they would otherwise pay. As a result, brewers from outside Alberta were charged more than $2 million in taxes that the court deemed unconstitutional. Despite losing the case, the Alberta government is refusing to repay the money and the case is now before the appeal court as a result.

“When governments take money they are not entitled to take, they cannot simply keep the proceeds after the law is struck down,” said Wudrick. “Taxpayers deserve the certainty that if they face an unlawful tax, they will get their money back.”

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