DUBLIN: As the eve of Christmas is a few day ahead, the duty on all kind of off-licences in Ireland has to suffer with high duties of more than 600 percent than the EU. At least 280% higher for beer and 230% higher for spirits.
Alcohol, and in particular wine, is taxed outrageously in this country. Tax on wine has increased 62% in the past two years: so much so that in a €10 bottle of wine, the actual juice makes up just 50c of the cost.
According to the National Off-Licence Association (NOffLA), that annual shopping spree will cost you approximately €250.65 with a shocking €119.57 of that sizeable bill down to excise duty and VAT.
As you load your trolley with booze this Christmas, it’s worth remembering a huge chunk of your money goes straight to the Government, says Leslie Williams
The typical Irish family, we estimate, will spend at least €250 on alcohol for themselves, their guests and for use as presents as they visit family and friends over the Christmas break.
That €250 is made up of six bottles of white wine, six bottles of red, a bottle of Prosecco for Christmas Day, one slab of beer and a bottle of port or sherry.
For those of us who love wine for its ability to match food and give added pleasure to a meal, this is not just heartbreaking, it makes us angry. And, don’t forget that our excise duty on alcohol then gets 23% VAT added so we have a tax on a tax. You couldn’t make it up.
As if this wasn’t enough, our excise duty on sparkling wine and champagne is double that of wine.
Hence a Spanish Cava or Italian Spumante Prosecco will have excise duty costs alone of over €6 in Ireland, yet both could cost as little as €1.50 in a Madrid or Milan supermarket.
Is it any wonder so many couples buy the fizz for their weddings in French supermarkets?
Remember that we now have a nascent independent distilling industry but a tourist will pay an average of €29.18 for a litre of Irish whiskey here while in the US it costs €16.61 and in Germany €17.56.
“I’m embarrassed with tourists that come to my restaurant at how much I have to charge them for a simple bottle of wine, especially when a glass of wine with a meal should be the most natural thing in the world,” says Michael Ryan of Isaac’s Restaurant on McCurtain Street in Cork.
“Alcohol is our only product and if we fail to obey the law to the letter we can lose our licence and our livelihood. The large multiples now have over 50% of the alcohol market and use alcohol as a loss-leader to drive footfall and sell other dearer grocery products — we do not have that option so this is not a level playing field,” he adds.
A small importer who sells 1,000 cases of wine per month now has to come up with an extra €18,000 for the Revenue as soon as he takes that wine from the bonded warehouse (within 14 days generally).
In the off-licence sector, 3,000 jobs have been lost since 2008 and 544 off-licences have closed or lapsed since 2008.
But in order to pay that wage, a shop would need to sell over 1,100 cases of wine, which, incidentally, will bring in €53,000 in excise duty and VAT for the Government.