Because duty is calculated based on ABV we need both the alcohol content and the price to calculate the tax Update: The Campaign was successful seeing the 2015 budget reduce tax by 2% down to £7.74 on a standard 70 cl bottle. The Calculator has been updated accordingly
SWA Call for 2% cut to Whisky duty
In case you missed my article on whisky tax, the Scottish Whisky Association is calling for a 2% cut in the alcohol duty in the next budget. It will probably come as no surprise to most that British alcohol duties, the so called sin taxes are incredibly expensive when compared to much of Europe. Personally I’m a big fan of lowering the duty for the simple reason that with any flat rate tax the people hit the hardest are those least able to afford it, still the charge that we’re paying around 80% seems to be more than a little disingenuous.
A Disproportionate Whisky Tax
Because VAT is static at 20% and the duty on Scotch whisky is calculated based upon Alcohol percentage the duty level is disproportionately high for cheaper spirits and comparatively lower as whisky price increases. For a £13 whisky tax makes up around 77% of the total cost of the bottle, by the time you’re buying a £40 bottle tax reaches as low as 37% of the total cost.
A Campaign Worth Supporting
The reality is that no-one is being entirely genuine about the cost of whisky tax, the figures quoted by the SWA reflect the cheaper end of the blend spectrum. Nonetheless this is a campaign worth supporting, a tax which impacts so heavily on the least able to afford it is regressive, while some will argue that distilleries are simply looking to make more money (this is of course true) or that lowering the tax on the cheapest whisky will lead to alcoholism (this is debatable but not entirely without merit) the simple fact of the matter is that these levels of taxation pricing higher quality spirits out of reach for many, spirits which are already (due to the costs of maturation) far more expensive than lower quality alternatives such as vodka. Shaving 2% off the cost won’t change much but it’s a step in the right direction.