Local brewery not eligible for COVID-19 relief funding, says CRA is to blame
LANGFORD -- V2V Black Hops Brewing is a locally owned brewery in the West Shore. It’s an establishment owned by a veteran that’s known for donating a portion of its profits to organizations that help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Now, the brewery is the one that’s in need of help.
“You know, I’m looking at potential bankruptcy or filing a consumer proposal if I don’t make this,” said Graham Hafey, owner of V2V Black Hops Brewing in Langford.
V2V Black Hops is in jeopardy of having to close its doors for good as it can’t qualify for crucial government COVID-19 relief funding, even though its owners believe it should.
“We’ve got pay stubs and copies of cashed cheques, everything, showing that we actually are eligible under the terms of that wage subsidy that the Federal Government is offering,” said Hafey. “The CRA won’t give it to us.”
Hafey’s brewery currently doesn’t qualify for the wage subsidy and he says the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) is to blame.
“Through some sort of clerical error our payroll number wasn’t put in until after the qualification date of March 15,” he told CTV News.
He made the request for that payroll number to be put into the CRA system in February.
“We were trying to show the CRA evidence that, in fact, he had been paying his employees, that he’d been paying their EI and CPP premiums,” said Alistair MacGregor, Member of Parliment for Cowichan-Langford-Malahat.
Hafey has found an ally in the federal MP, who has taken his fight all the way to Ottawa.
“Unfortunately, here we are at the end of 2020 and we have not yet had any resolution on this particular file,” said MacGregor.
CTV News asked the CRA about Hafey’s situation and in a reply the agency said it was prevented by the Tax Act to comment on specific taxpayer information.
It’s little help for the struggling brewery where things are getting desperate for the owner. He just had to let go of all of his staff.
But, Hafey says he’s not going down without a fight and encourages other small businesses in similar situations to fight back as well.
“We’re looking at possibly taking CRA and the Federal Government to court,” said Hafey. “I would urge any other businesses that started this year and that have been left high and dry with little to no benefits to contact me.”
“Then we’ll see if we can get a lawyer and take CRA to court,” he said.
On Jan. 6, Hafey says he’ll have a better understanding if he has enough money in the bank to open his doors again. As of right now, it’s not looking very good.
The brewery is another example of a new local business that does not qualify for any federal relief money.
“We’re simply not on the same playing field as our competitors right now,” said Peter Woods, owner of Bear and Joey Cafe in downtown Victoria, back in early December.
Bear and Joey doesn’t quality as it opened its doors in May.
Other local businesses are finding themselves in similar positions.
Rob Kettner is the owner of Hey Happy, located in downtown Victoria. He spoke with CTV News in mid-December about similar concerns.
“We’re losing a ton of money right now,” he said.
Hey Happy expanded just before the pandemic, which prevented it from qualifying for benefits as well.