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ATO targets sale of ‘illicit alcohol’ on retail premises

The Australian Taxation Office is clamping down on the sale of ‘illicit alcohol’ on retail premises around the country.

Illicit alcohol is product that has entered the supply chain without adequate duty paid or otherwise acquitted, according to the office, and which can then be sold in retail bottle shops, bars and restaurants for a greater profit margin – creating an unfair competitive advantage to manufacturers following government guidelines.

“We take these illicit alcohol manufacturing and distribution behaviours very seriously and impose substantial penalties,” the ATO said.

“Retailers should know, or suspect, excise duty has not been included in their purchase price. This complicit (or reckless) behaviour undermines the integrity of the excise regime, deprives the community of funds required to fund essential community services, and creates an uneven playing field for businesses that comply with the law.”

In an effort to curb this behaviour, the ATO has begun contacting alcohol retailers about their obligations, auditing entities that suggest non-compliance, issuing demands for unpaid duty, and monitoring suspicious entities it believes may be engaging in this behaviour.

In the worst cases, the ATO said it could refer a retailer’s actions on to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions for criminal prosecution. If a retailer suspects they may have taken on illicit alcohol, they can contact the ATO voluntarily and potentially suffer a reduced penalty.

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