Scots ‘say 76% tax on whisky is unfair’

A poll carried out for the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) shows that 92% of Scots consider the 76% tax levied on a bottle of Scotch to be unfair.

Consumers currently pay almost £10 of tax on every bottle of Scotch.

The SWA said more than three quarters of the price of a bottle of Scotch (76%) is tax paid to the UK Exchequer in excise duty and VAT.

The trade group, which has 58 member companies, said that as well as being unfair to consumers, the whisky industry believes that the level of tax is damaging to the economy.

The SWA said that if less tax was levied, more jobs could be safeguarded and smaller businesses could flourish.

The Scotch industry has 117 distilleries, employs more than 10,000 people in Scotland and supports 40,000 jobs across the UK, and generates £5 billion in value each year, the SWA said.

The SWA said the industry, however, cannot be taken for granted.

Across the wider British public, 85% of those surveyed agreed that the tax on Scotch was unfair, the SWA said.

UK Chancellor George Osborne cut the rate of spirits duty for the first time in almost 20 years in the Budget — by 2%.

“The SWA believes that was a good start but more has to be done by the UK Government to support the industry,” said the SWA.

David Frost, chief executive of the SWA, said: “Thousands of Scots are preparing to celebrate Hogmanay with the traditional glass of Scotch.

“But almost all of them clearly believe it is wrong that 76% of the price of a bottle of whisky goes straight to the Treasury. We agree that’s unfair too.

“The bold move by George Osborne in this year’s Budget to cut excise duty by 2% gave a boost to our 117 Scotch Whisky distilleries and across our UK supply chain.

“But that was the first cut in spirits duty in almost 20 years and was only the fifth time that tax on whisky has ever been cut since distilling became legal in 1832.

“So there’s more to be done and we want the UK Government to build on that first step they’ve taken.

“It’s an exciting time for an iconic Scottish and British industry that is the envy of the world. An industry that creates jobs but also supports thousands of people who work in hospitality, retail and logistics industries the length and breadth of the UK.”