Ruffled feathers at Belgian excise hike

SpiritsEurope has accused the Belgian government of discrimination following that country’s 41% increase in excise tax on spirits from the beginning of this month.

The new tax corresponds to €2.60 on a bottle of spirits, a mere 13 Cent on a bottle of wine but just one Cent on beer.

According to SpiritsEurope, “Since 1 January 2013 tax on spirits has increased by more than 70%.

“From a tax and health perspective, a unit of alcohol is the same whether it comes from beer, wine or spirits,” argues SpiritsEurope, “Yet the discrimination between the three categories of products was already huge: €2,125 per hectolitre of pure alcohol of spirits compared to €550 per hectolitre of pure alcohol of wine and €462 per hectolitre of pure alcohol beer.

“There can be no reasonable justification for such an imbalanced tax increase,” continues SpiritsEurope, “More than 30% of the spirits consumed is produced locally by SMEs which will suffer and yet they fully contribute to the social and economic fabric of their region.

“We can already wager – as already witnessed in several other EU countries – that expected revenues from the tax increase will not occur because the increase will drive consumers to shift consumption to other product categories, to non-commercial alcohol and to cross-border shopping, especially considering that more than 50% of the Belgian population lives within 50km of a border.”




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