Tax on Whisky (UK)

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Ian Buxton
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Tax on Whisky (UK)

Postby Ian Buxton » Sun Feb 25, 2007 7:25 pm

Do you think we pay too much tax on whisky? :cry:

I have just found a remarkable petition on the UK Government's E-Petition web site, started by one Andrew Ferguson (no idea who he is).

It reads: We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to abolish the duty on whisky.

Now, call me optimistic but I've signed!

You can too, at

UK residents only, though.

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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Feb 26, 2007 11:10 am

Funny, or is the correct word coincidental?, just how many "new members" are suddenly appearing on here after "just finding" this petition .......... :?

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I am the petition creator

Postby fergusa » Mon Feb 26, 2007 3:50 pm

Well I would be the Andrew Ferguson you refer to and for your info "Malt-teaser" I have no idea who Ian is.

Rather cynical of you to presume that Ian is the same person as I am, is it so hard to believe that there are people out there who'd like to see the industry recieve more support?

Ian, Thanks for your support and please continue to get the message out, there is power in many voices saying the same thing and I hope we can get ourselves heard.

The public affairs manager at the Scottish Whisky Assosciation emailed me today to say he is passing on the message to his members.

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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Feb 26, 2007 4:02 pm

Mr Buxton is a reasonably well-known lad whose publishing projects have been mentioned in WhiskyCast and, I'm sure, many other places. See his post under Whisky Books. I am quite sure that, unlike some clowns here with nothing better to do (like, oh, I don't, he doesn't read every single post to these forums, and so was unaware that this had been posted by fergusa before. This sort of duplication is pretty common here. M-T's confusion is perhaps understandable, given that fergusa made such a passionate plea for this petition, giving the impression of several persons' worth of effort.

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Paul A Jellis
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Postby Paul A Jellis » Mon Feb 26, 2007 8:43 pm

I've signed, but I'm not sure it will any difference.

Ian Buxton
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Postby Ian Buxton » Tue Feb 27, 2007 12:09 am

I was, I must confess, totally baffled by Malt-Teaser's cryptic comment, but now I see that, with the petition posted previously (which I hadn't seen, d'oh) it makes some sort of cynical sense. Sorry. But it was really nothing to do with me; I don't know the bloke who started it from Adam and I really did just blunder into it on the Goverment e-petition site. (Yes, I know, I should get out more.)

Anyway, I am still drawing this to the attention of lots of people - so get on and sign folks!

We all know it won't make a blind bit of difference but it's a change from sitting here blogging all night!


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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Feb 27, 2007 9:07 am

My apologies to Ian and Fergusa for any offence I may have caused.

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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Feb 27, 2007 9:26 am

Whilst we are talking about tax or Duty on alcohol, I think you should be aware that even if they wanted to, the abolishment of Duty would be impossible!
I am just digging out some very relevant information for you, but firstly please allow me to remind you that the UK is part of the EU and as of legislation agreed in September 2006, the EU has set a minimum duty that MUST be implemented by all EU member states.

OK, so this is a minimum and I see no mention in my link of the UK having to increase Duty to match this minimum, but there is certainly no possibility for the UK to abolish Duty even if they wanted to.

Perhaps you should focus the petition to not raising Duty, or reducing it in line with other EU member states.

Here is the link which explains this:

It is a PDF document explaining the new legislation.

The PDF document was taken from this next (linked) page:

Just skip to the bottom of the page, it is available in three different languages.

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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Feb 27, 2007 9:26 am

Errrrrmmm Matt: Can you explain what I did wrong for those links not to work please?

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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Feb 27, 2007 9:29 am

Main page is the above link, I tried again and it seems to be working now.

I still can't get the PDF link to work, but it is available from the bottom of that page (in 3 different languages).

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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Feb 27, 2007 9:40 am

One more point about taxation and, a point which is probably the most worrying of all as this has the potential to decimate or even destroy businesses, is the new law which came into force across the EU in Sept. 2006.

The EU was always intended to be a single market, enabling more freedom of choice and commerce across and between member states.

Not any more!

It would seem that the idea has been just too successful.

It has already been discussed in a couple of other threads, but you may have noticed that many whisky businesses have started to refuse business outside their own country.
You may like to ask "Why?"

Well, the EU has now decided that the idea of a single market is just not good for business.
Follow the next link and go to the bottom of the page.
The last section is quite enlightening:

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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Feb 27, 2007 9:59 am

What we see now is that anyone selling whisky (or any alcohol) must pay Duty in the EU country where the whisky is shipped to.

So far, this is an impossibility to implement.
I have been looking at this for some weeks now and all I see are complaints that it is a logistical nightmare to establish payment procedures to the tax / customs authorities in other countries. There are currently no routes that I can find to do this through the customs authorities in our own countries, thus allowing them to pass the duty onwards.

Also, there are many complaints that at the moment, if a seller does try to do this, they end up paying two sets of duty; one in their own country and a second in the country of their customer. With no currently effective means of getting a re-imbursement of the duty paid in their own country.

What does this mean?
So far, many German sellers have now stopped accepting orders from outside of Germany.
But this is just an example, we will soon see the same restrictions when other sellers in other countries realise this law exists.

Look at the main whisky businesses / sellers in the UK:
I would say the largest two are probably TWE and LFW, but also including RM and many, many more, including some who advertise in WM as world-wide shippers.

This law has been sneaked in without very much awareness being offered to the general public and sellers. How many actually know about this?

If you look at the percentage of sales for any of these large internet stores I am sure you would find a very high proportion of their business comes from overseas sales.
This one law has the immediate potential to destroy their business, or at least the overseas part of it which could be as much as 50% or more.

I personally think that petitions to ask just one EU member state to abolish duty really are a waste of time. Any single member state just isn't the correct target for petitions.
I believe we should be focusing efforts more towards the EU and the stupid, business-crippling laws being introduced.

A second law which was being discussed during February, but as yet I haven't seen an update on whether it was actually passed and when it will be implemented, is an extension to the Rome treaty on distance selling.
As we all know, sellers must offer buyers the possibility to return goods if not satisfied - for any reason.
It now seems that it will soon be law that if a buyer is unhappy and takes the matter to court, the jurisdiction will be in the country and courts of the buyer, not the seller (which it currently is).
This means that if a seller is taken to court, he must be prepared to face a court case in the country of his buyer.
This is a legal nightmare which all sellers usually hope to avoid by offering good customer care and satisfaction, but mistakes do sometimes happen and in the future, it looks like they will be prohibitively costly.


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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Tue Feb 27, 2007 12:02 pm

I remember getting a mail from

stating that they had to cease shipping abroad shortly after the EU announcement.

However shortly they mailed again saying that they had resumed shipping stating that they could do so as they had registered in all EU countries.

I have no idea how they work it but I suppose that they cn take the risk and see how much of their shipments is actually properly recorded and then settle up on that side of things. No idea but they are back in business Europe wide and that is all I need to know.

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les taylor
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Postby les taylor » Tue Feb 27, 2007 12:15 pm

Crazy when the EEC was set up it was meant to make life easier, travel and trade between countries. Now its evolved into the EU it seems to have made life more complicated.


Ian Buxton
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Postby Ian Buxton » Tue Feb 27, 2007 1:33 pm

Just to say to Malt-Teaser, no offence caused at all - I was just slightly mystified!

At the risk of starting a "political" debate - what a nightmare this has all become. No wonder we all bleed to death with taxes. There are only two things to be, it seems, poor - when you get some little help from the system, or very rich - when it seems your clever advisers can make sure you pay virtually nothing!
Ordinary working/middle class people trying to make an honest living get hammered. By the very people we elect to "serve" us.
End of rant.

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