Pubs could face £5K penalty under Government alcohol duty fraud proposals

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Hmrc, Beer

pubs duty fraud
Pubs could be forced to check that their drinks and wholesaler suppliers are registered to sell alcohol to businesses under new Government plans, or face a £5,000 penalty or sanctions against their licence.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has published an informal consultation on the next steps for tackling alcohol fraud. The consultation expands on the response published by HMRC, which revealed that the Government had abandoned immediate plans to introduce fiscal stamps on beer bottles due to the “significant” costs it would place on UK brewers.

The document Alcohol Fraud: Next Steps suggests a range of actions to fight alcohol fraud, including registering wholesalers. It also reveals that HMRC will establish a joint anti-fraud force, comprising representatives from HMRC, the Border Force, trading standards, trade association representatives and senior officials from across the alcohol industry.

HMRC said it will amend existing legislation so it can revoke an existing brewer’s registration for reasonable cause, such as fraud.

However, HMRC suggests retailers (including pubs) should be obliged to check regularly that all suppliers are registered on an online system and keep evidence that they have checked this.

It said: “Retailers would be obliged to ensure they are only sourcing products from wholesale suppliers that
are appropriately registered.

"Failure to do so could result in a financial penalty.”

A spokesman for the British Beer & Pub Association said: “We will respond in detail to these proposals, and work with HMRC to tackle fraud.

“We have long called for a duty fraud task force, and support an appropriate system of wholesaler registration, though we will make the case that any registration system is proportionate, to avoid overburdening the country’s brewing and pub businesses.

“While it’s right that pubs ensure they are buying from legitimate suppliers, HMRC needs to strike a balance between due diligence and additional bureaucracy on our highly-regulated sector.”

The HMRC consultation​ closes on 28 October.

Related topics: Legislation

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