Alcohol gets its own stamp for duty

12 April 2006
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13 April 2006 | Anusha Bradley

Purchasers have been urged to register now for a new scheme aiming to stop spirits duty fraud.

HM Revenue and Customs is introducing new legislation which will require manufacturers or importers to attach stamps to some alcohol products, proving duty has been paid on them.

The rule, due to be introduced on 1 October, will apply to all spirits with an alcohol content of more than 30 per cent in bottles larger than 35 centilitres.

Ruth Ryan, senior policy advisor at HMRC, told SM the scheme is being introduced to combat fraud, which costs the UK £250 million a year.

Anyone responsible for the procurement of labels should register with HMRC to ensure they receive their free stamps by the October deadline. The registration and security process takes at least one month.

Jeremy Beadles, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said the scheme will increase the price of goods because importers and producers will have to attach the stamp, increasing the cost of labour.

"This cost will be passed down to supply contracts," he said.

However, drinks manufacturer Diageo, which produces spirits including Smirnoff and Johnnie Walker, disagreed.

A spokeswoman told SM it exported 80 per cent of its products to countries that already had duty stamp schemes.

"We have been applying stamps for export for 20 years so we are already geared up," she said.

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