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Issue 1 - A taxing problem

Whisky Magazine Issue 1
January 1999


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A taxing problem

Jens Tholstrup describes being taxed to the hilt in his native country, and deprived of a decent choice of malts into the bargain

Denmark is not the cheapest place to live. Any normal taxpayer will be relieved of 50 per cent of his salary before he even bothers the bank with what is left. Above a certain income this rises to 70 per cent. On top of this comes heavy indirect taxation; there is taxation of something like 220 per cent on a car. It is a little less with whisky; the tax on one 70 cl bottle of 43%Vol is £7.50 (US$12.50). Yes, it's bearable, but on top of that you have to add the distributor's and the retailer's profit, and VAT at 25 per cent.

At least this means that cheap akvavit is today taxed the same way as a 25 Year Old single malt, but it is only two years ago that the tax system was changed: it used to be aimed at hitting spirits harder the more expensive they were.

Even this, however, didn't stop the Swedes from coming to Denmark to shop for alcohol, while Danes living vaguely close to the German border (meaning anything within 200 miles) drove south once or twice a year to shop for beer and better spirits. The odd bottle of duty free could also be brought home from airports or ferries, but the duty-free limit is one litre of spirits. And mailing whisky to Denmark is illegal unless tax is paid, so mail order companies beware.

One reason, however, that the Swedes like coming here to shop is that they (like the Norwegians) have wine and spirit monopolies; Danes can at least buy whisky at the grocer or the local supermarket, and you don't have to be older than 15 to do your first spi...

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