The All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group (APPG) has launched an inquiry into beer tax fraud following Government plans over duty stamps reports the Morning Advertiser.
In March the Government launched a consultation into the proposed introduction of duty stamps on beer bottles, cans and containers below 10 litres. These stamps are already required for spirits in the UK. It claimed that tax losses from beer duty fraud cost £500m per year and estimated that between 5-14% of beer consumption is illicit. Now most of you, like me will wonder where all this illicit beer is to be found, but let's just assume it can be. Clearly the government has a duty (no pun intended) to ensure that duty is paid on all beer sales in the UK, but as always there is a sting in the tail. It seems, and when you think about it, it is logical, that most companies that export beer to the UK, will not want to be arsed with doing separate runs with "UK Duty Paid" labels. It would simply be too expensive. It seems that the number of imported brands could drop from 2200 or so to a mere 200 and these, presumably would be the, shall we say, less interesting imports. Small run, imports of exotic foreign beers might simply dry up.Now you'll be thinking that this is a worst case scenario and there is a self interest in not doing so and to make it all sound scary and that the Government wouldn't be stupid enough to do it anyway would they? I wouldn't be so sure. The Government - any Government - have an endless capacity for feet shooting and stupidity. Be concerned.
You can read the whole sorry tale in the MA here and an article I wrote about the same subject in last September here.