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Revenue seizes €0.5m of illegal alcohol to date in 2011

So far this year, the Revenue Commissioners have seized beer, wine and spirits worth nearly €500,000 in raids on unlicensed traders.

According to figures obtained by Drinks Industry Ireland from the Revenue Commissioners in 2010 the figure was €570,713, so the 2011 figure to date, at €480,719 to the end of September, is more than 84 per cent of last year’s total – and that’s before the Christmas rush.

The Revenue Commissioners have conducted 18 beer raids so far this year worth €28,971 at retail and comprising some €4,324 to the Exchequer in excise coupled with another €5,612 in VAT. In 2010 36 raids were carried out where beer worth €74,720 at retail and comprising €11,879 in excise and €14,181 in VAT was seized.

However to date this year there have been 184 raids on illegal spirits traders where the Revenue Commissioners have made seizures worth €176,418 at retail comprising €77,342 in excise and €30,578 in VAT. This compares to just 165 raids for the whole of 2010 netting spirits worth €187,864 at retail.

There have also been more raids on illegal traders of wine this year than last already with 57 raids seizing wine worth €275,330 at retail comprising excise worth €70,844 and VAT of €48,584. In 2010 54 wine raids were conducted worth €308,129 at retail.
While the Revenue Commissioners have no estimate as to the total illicit alcohol figure here, sales of illicit beer in the UK jumped 40 per cent in the 2009/2010 year, accounting for 14 per cent of total beer sales there, the UK’s Revenue & Customs stated recently.

This would account for some £800 million in lost duty and VAT, it’s reckoned, up from 2008/2009’s figure of £550 million (or 10 per cent of the total) on a diminishing beer market there.

The UK government’s ‘duty escalator’ on alcohol which continues to add duty at two per cent above inflation each year is believed to be to blame for consumers seeking cheaper illegal alternatives.

A noticeable rise in illegal spirits sales to an estimated £440 million, up from 2008/2009’s £310 million, indicates that such sales have grown from eight per cent to 11 per cent of the spirits market in the UK.

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