Poll: Should the government cut excise duty on beer?

Drinks lobby groups say the tax is a ‘major threat’ to the industry.

By Conor McMahon Deputy editor, Fora

IT COMES AS little surprise that drinks lobby groups are once again calling on the government to reduce excise duty on alcohol ahead of next year’s budget.

In a column published by Fora, the head of the Irish Brewers Association, Jonathan McDade, said that one of the biggest threats facing beer makers today is a potential increase in excise duty.

“We already pay the highest prices for alcohol in the EU, at 75% above the EU average, and have the second highest rate of excise in the EU,” McDade wrote. “We pay 1000% more on excise than beer drinkers in Germany.”

He went on to call beer excise a “regressive tax on jobs, tourism and regional development” and argued that ”reducing excise will facilitate investment in the beer sector from grain to glass and beyond”.

However, alcohol excise duty generates a big chunk of money for the public purse every year. In 2016, excise receipts for beer alone brought in €430 million for the exchequer, up from €417 million the year before.

Beer has enjoyed its place as the most popular drink in Ireland for many years.

According to the Irish Brewers Association, beer consumption increased by 3% last year, with each drinker putting away more than 80 litres across the 12 months.

The craft beer sector has also experienced rapid growth in recent times, with its share of the drinks market increasing from just 1.2% in 2014 to 3.4% in 2016.

With that in mind, we’re asking Fora readers this week: Should the government cut excise duty on beer?