The All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group (APPG) has launched an inquiry into beer tax fraud following Government plans to introduce duty stamps on beer to combat tax evasion, writes Michelle Perrett.
In March the Government launched a consultation into the proposed introduction of duty stamps on beer bottles, cans and containers below 10 litres. It claimed that tax losses from beer duty fraud cost £500m per year and estimated that between 5-14% of beer consumption is illicit.
However, the Government also suggested exclusions for a range of products that are perceived as low risk including all draught beers, beer at 2.8% ABV or below, small brewery beer or those qualifying for duty relief, which is 200,000 hectolitres per annum.
The APPBG is to put together a panel of MPs, which will invite views from those affected by the proposed legislation. Treasury minister Chloe Smith will also be invited to present evidence to the panel. The panel of MPs, expected to number at around eight, will visit Dover to consider the challenges faced by Customs officers.
It will then present its conclusions to Treasury ministers, offering recommendations based on the evidence taken. It will aim to do this by around the end of the public consultation on duty stamps which concludes on 25 June 2012.
The group’s chairman Andrew Griffiths MP said: “We have been concerned about this difficult issue for some time, and have concluded that it merits a closer look. We intend to test the assumptions behind HMRC’s proposals and their likely effects, both beneficial and otherwise. If simpler and less costly remedies can be found, then so much the better. We shall be pleased to receive and consider the views of any affected businesses.”
APPG does not have the formal scrutiny powers of a Select Committee, but can run a series of meetings to discuss an issue of relevance.