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Drinking wine in Ireland is expensive. Really, really expensive

The National Off-Licence Association says it’s hurting smaller sellers.

Image: Shutterstock

THE EXCISE DUTY on bottles of wine sold in Ireland is 624% higher than the EU average according to the The National Off-Licence Association (NOffLA).

The off-licence lobby group says the excise duty being imposed on Irish wine drinkers, over six times the EU average, is making things especially difficult for smaller specialised sellers.

In last year’s budget, the government made no changes to the excise duty on alcohol whereas the year previous it was hiked across all alcohol types.

NOffLA says that the current excise levels in Ireland are way ahead of the EU average, 298% higher for beer, 243% higher for spirits and 624% for wine.

It makes Ireland second only to Finland in having the highest taxes on alcohol in the EU according to NOffLA’s Evelyn Jones.

“Ireland is currently the most expensive country in Europe in relation to excise on wine,” says Jones. “It is stunting the ability of SMEs all over Ireland to invest in their businesses in the short, medium and long term.”

A survey of NOffLA’s 315 members off-licences found that over half recorded a decrease in their wine sales of up to 30% last year. Collectively, they’ve called for a reversal of the government’s hikes in excise duty that were introduced in 2013.

An reduction in the tax added to alcohol is opposed by Alcohol Action Ireland who say that a direct connection can be observed between excise rates and drinking habits.

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Alcohol Action Ireland and NOffLA do agree, however, on the reintroduction of a ban on the below cost selling of alcohol.

NOffLA say that below cost selling means that retailers can reclaim a VAT refund on the difference between the cost price and the actual below-cost sale price. This they say is unfair on smaller retailers and also costs the taxpayer an average of €24 million a year.

Read: The economic recovery means Irish people are drinking more >

Read: Have you had alcohol delivered to your home? You may have broken the law >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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