Call to cut excise duty as Irish pay more for booze

Ireland has highest wine excise in EU and second highest for beer, report shows

The excise duty on beer in Ireland is 1,000 times that of Germany, Spain or Luxembourg and is the second highest in the European Union, according to a new report.

The study also shows the country has the second highest excise duty on alcohol overall, behind Finland.

Excise duty is a specific tax levied per unit of alcohol in a drink. According to the new research commissioned by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI), Ireland’s alcohol excise duty is 150 per cent higher than 24 of the other 28 EU member states.

Combined with VAT and retail price, it makes alcohol considerably more expensive here than in most other European countries.


The study shows Ireland also has the highest wine excise in the EU and the third-highest spirits excise, behind Finland and Sweden.

‘Anti-competitive tax’

Maggie Timoney, DIGI chair and the managing director of Heineken Ireland, described excise duty as "an anti-competitive tax" and one that risks the country becoming less attractive to overseas visitors and investors.

“[The] report shows definitively that Ireland’s excise duty rates are punitive and completely out of kilter with our European peers. Ultimately, high levels of excise are a tax on a sector that contributes significantly to the Irish economy in terms of jobs and tourism, particularly in rural Ireland,” Ms Timoney said.

“The industry is a high-growth sector driving investment, innovation and job creation, with nascent distilleries and microbreweries being created which are valuable in terms of exports and tourism. DIGI believes the Government should invest in the drinks and hospitality industry by reducing excise duty, supporting investment and jobs in the domestic economy,” she added.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist