Decline in Illicit Market Should Not Lead to Complacency

ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) has responded to the publication of HM Revenue and Customs’ report on the prevalence of non-duty paid alcohol and illicit tobacco in the UK. ACS is reiterating calls for targeted action at a local level to reduce the impact of the illicit trade on responsible retailers.

HMRC’s Measuring Tax Gap report published today shows that the tax gap for tobacco products has declined from £2.4billion in 2016-17 to £1.8billion in 2017-18.  The illicit cigarette market share declined by 6% but an sharp increase of 5% in the illicit hand rolling tobacco market share was also reported. 

The beer tax gap fell by nearly 30% from £850m in 2016-17 to £600m in 2017-18, but the tax gap for spirits doubled from £170m in 2016-17 to £360m in 2017-18. The overall alcohol tax gap was £900m for 2017-18 but no longer includes the wine tax gap. The alcohol tax gap accounted for £1.3bn in the previous year.  

ACS chief executive, James Lowman, said: “It is welcome news that the tax gap is reducing but this is not time to be complacent. Any retailer found to be selling illicit or non-duty paid alcohol and tobacco should feel the full force of the law and where necessary ceased from trading.

“We need HMRC and trading standards officers to work more closely together and be better resourced to disrupted illicit supply chains that often fund organised criminally.”

ACS responded to HMRC’s review of sanctions for the sale of illicit tobacco in 2017, calling for:

  • More effective sanctions should be made available to trading standards officers, including the revocation of alcohol licences for selling illicit tobacco
  • Additional powers to trading standards officers to sanction retailers by using the Customs & Excise Management Act 1979 (CEMA) and better intelligence sharing
  • Extending Restricted Premise Orders and Restricted Sales Orders to include illicit tobacco as an offence.

The Chancellor announced at the last Budget that they will support the creation of a UK-wide Anti-Illicit Trade Group.

The full findings of the HMRC tax Gap is available here.

This entry was posted by Chloe on Fri, 21/06/2019 - 16:29
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