The Irish laws governing taxation on beer, including where the various tax breaks are applied and to what, are largely controlled by European law. Specifically, Directive 92/83/EEC allows member states to grant up to 50% excise duty relief on brewers producing up to 200kHL of beer annually, and allows for extra-low rates of excise duty on beer below 2.8% ABV.
The European Commission is now proposing a revision of these rules, in a way likely to have a significant impact on the craft drinks industry in Ireland. Proposal for a Council Directive amending Directive 92/83/EEC on the harmonization of the structures of excise duties on alcohol and alcoholic beverages aka COM(2018)334 can be downloaded from this page, along with associated impact assessment documents.
Three particular proposals are of note:
- An increase in the threshold for low-strength beer duty from 2.8% ABV to 3.5% ABV
- The creation of a pan-European certificate for independent microbreweries to assist with claiming the lower rate of duty in other member states
- The extension of the microbrewers' duty cut to cider makers.
Of these, the final one is perhaps the most impactful and is something that Beoir and Ireland's cider producers have been calling for for several years. The Commission's proposal sets a limit of 15khL of cider to avail of a maximum 50% excise duty cut.
Feedback is being sought on the proposals from anyone interested (link). The closing date is 20th July 2018. For its part, Beoir welcomes the proposals and will be requesting that they be implemented.