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Top 10 highest taxed EU countries for BWS

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association has strengthened its calls for a 2% cut to duty on wine and spirits by revealing the vast difference paid in tax on alcohol by EU member states, with the UK faring least favourably.

The Drop the Duty! campaign, launched by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, TaxPayers’ Alliance and Scotch Whisky Association, aims to raise awareness of the “extremely high” rate of tax that UK consumers currently pay on wines and spirits calling for a 2% cut in tax.

UK consumers currently pay nearly 80% tax on an average priced bottle of spirits and almost 60% on an average priced bottle of wine. That means 78% tax on whisky (£10.06 on an average bottle), 79% tax on gin (£10.03), 76% on vodka (£9.48) and 56% tax on a bottle of wine (£2.93).

As the 2015 UK Budget announcement nears closer, campaigners are hoping their pleas will be heard, repeating the success of last year’s campaign which saw the UK’s alcohol duty escalator scrapped. A cut in duty on wine and spirits would result in a £1.5 billion boost to public finances in 2015, according to independent analysis by Ernst Young. Wine hasn’t received a tax cut since 1985, while spirits has only received two tax cuts in the past 100 years.

To support their calls, the WSTA has released a breakdown of what each EU member country paid in tax on alcohol in 2014, with some surprising differences.

For comparison, the average tax paid by EU countries is as follows: spirits: €524m, wine: €221m, sparkling wine: €39m, beer: €363m, total: €1.7bn.

With this in mind, scroll through to see just how much UK consumers pay in tax on wine and spirits, compared to their EU counterparts…

For more information on supporting the campaign click here. 

10. Ireland

Spirits: €290m

Wine: €282m

Sparkling wine: €12m

Beer: €358m

Total: €1bn

9. Italy

Abruzzo, Italy

Spirits: €518m

Wine: €0

Sparkling wine: €0

Beer: €489m

Total: €1bn

8. Netherlands

Spirits: €321m

Wine: €301m

Sparkling wine: €16m

Beer: €406m

Total: €1.1bn

7. Spain

Spirits: €773m

Wine: €0

Sparkling wine: €0

Beer: €299m

Total: €1.1bn

6. Finland

Spirits: €429m

Wine: €313m

Sparkling wine: €0

Beer: €575m

Total: €1.3bn

5. Sweden

Spirits: €451m

Wine: €532m

Sparkling wine: €0

Beer: €376m

Total: €1.4bn

4. Poland

City centre of Wroclaw in Poland

Spirits: €1.7bn

Wine: €89m

Sparkling wine: €0

Beer: €841m

Total: €2.6bn

3. France

Loire Valley. Image from InWIneTruth

Spirits: €2.2bn

Wine: €91m

Sparkling wine: €27m

Beer: €670m

Total: €3.1bn

2. Germany

Vineyards in Germany’s Nahe Valley

Spirits: €2.1bn

Wine: €0

Sparkling wine: €434m

Beer: €673m

Total: €3.2bn

1. UK

Taking the top spot by nearly €10 billion is the UK, which pays an extraordinary amount in tax on wine, beer and spirits compared to other EU countries. With the average total spend on beer, wine and spirit tax €1.7 billion, the UK pays a staggering 635% more in alcohol tax than the average EU country.

“It’s a little known fact that UK consumers actually drink less per person than the EU average, yet the tax bill they face is staggering”, said Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association. “Every Brit that enjoys a glass of wine or a gin and tonic pays nearly two and a half times the duty that their European counterparts pay on average. So we drink less, but pay much more! This is why the UK’s duty bill is so vast, with George Osborne taking taking nearly 40% of all alcohol duty collected across the EU, including an astonishing 67% of all wine duties. It’s time to stop this unfairness. Come on George, Drop the Duty!”

For more information on supporting the campaign click here. 

Spirits: €3.7bn

Wine: €3.9bn

Sparkling wine: €460m

Beer: €3.9bn

Total: €12.5bn

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