Retailers seek tobacco tax freeze amid smuggling concerns

More than 3,000 retailers are calling on the Government not to increase tax on tobacco products amid concerns that would further fuel ever-increasing smuggling.

The pre-budget submission by Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS) has highlighted its concerns following latest figures from the Revenue Commissioners which show that customs officers have so far this year seized illicit tobacco which, if sold, would have resulted in the Exchequer losing €15.8m in tax — approximately €5m more than the same period last year.

RAS said that in order to prevent any further damage to small and medium businesses in Ireland, it is calling for a moratorium on further excise increases until such increases can be proven not to encourage smuggling.

Dublin retailer and RAS spokesperson for Benny Gilsenan said tobacco products can amount to 20-30% of business for small shop owners.

“Criminals can sell illegal cigarettes on our streets for €4- €5 per pack which undercuts the legitimate retailer by 50%.

“Therefore excise hikes directly impact our businesses,” Mr Gilsenan said.

As well as that RAS also want increased spot checks by Environmental Health Officers on non-retail outlets to prevent the sale of illicit tobacco products.

RAS is seeking the Department of Finance to establish a working group on illegal trade in which all interested stakeholders are invited to ensure there is a constant dialogue with the relevant government departments and the Revenue Commissioners.

Meanwhile, RAS is also calling for more regular spot checks to be carried out on fuel coming into the country from Northern Ireland.

RAS point out that Grant Thornton have estimated that 30% of the fuel market is illicit due to Northern Ireland not having a carbon tax.

Retailers are calling on the Government to ensure regular checking of fuel transports on the road for compliance with carbon tax and VAT legislation.

RAS want extra resources provided to the Revenue Commissioner to help them stamp out black market activity and save legitimate retailing jobs.


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