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Issue 56 - Stamp of authority

Whisky Magazine Issue 56
June 2006


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Stamp of authority

Tax stamps are being introduced for bottles of British spirits. In this issue we ask a panel whether they think they are a good idea

Simon Coughlin, Bruichladdich (SC)
John Glaser, Compass Box (JG)
Euan Shand, Duncan Taylor (ES)
David Williamson, Scotch Whisky Association (DW)

Q. From a producer's point of view are they a good thing or a bad thing?

DW: International experience has been that tax stamps are ineffective and that there are better ways to target rogue traders who try to avoid paying excise duty.

However, since the United Kingdom Government decided that it wanted to proceed with tax stamps, our priority has been to work closely with them to ensure that the scheme is workable and proportionate, minimising costs and disruption to the legitimate trade as much as possible.

To this end, we have made welcome progress with the costs to the trade reduced by some £50 million a year, largely because the Government accepted two industry proposals; one was to allow duty stamps to be integrated into back labels, rather than a paper strip stamp over the bottle closure, and, second, was the decision not to require upfront payment for duty stamps. This would have had severe consequences for company cash flow, especially our smaller members.

SC: We think they are an unnecessary burden on producers and are on balance a bad thing, and for the following reasons: One, they are based on a misconception of the size of duty fraud.

Two, they require significant extra work - keeping records of all stamps applied - new artwork for printing of back labels - more stock holding - new bar code required for ...

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