Thursday, 23 February 2006
Dáil Eireann Debate
96. Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Finance the reason all non-draught alcohol products, bottles, cans, cartons and plastic bottles, do not have a traceable excise stamp carried thereon; his views on the importance of such excise stamps; the reason it has not been possible to do this to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7503/06]
Minister for Finance (Mr. Cowen): I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the threat to tax receipts posed by illegal sales of untaxed alcohol products is not currently at such a level as to warrant the introduction of tax stamps. Following detections by Revenue Commissioners’ officers, a number of publicans have been successfully prosecuted for such offences in the last few years. However, there is no evidence that this problem is widespread or increasing. Strengthened offence and penalty provisions were introduced in the 2005 Finance Act to deal with such offences.
In addition, representatives of the Irish spirits trade have recently voiced their objections to the introduction of a tax stamps system. For producers and processors there would be the additional cost of installing and maintaining the stamping machinery and technical difficulties leading to reduced efficiency for bottling and other packaging. There would also be a burden for importers who would have to either arrange for the stamps to be affixed in the country of origin, or for stamping and repackaging after importation. At present the costs to the trade would be disproportionate to the risks of illegal sales. It is not proposed to introduce tax stamping for alcohol products at this stage. However, the situation will be kept under review.
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