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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Debt and return pursuit: Excise Duties (other than APD): Who is liable to pay the debt? Beer Duty?

Duty is charged on the quantity of beer and its alcoholic strength. Under the AlcoholicLiquor Duties Act 1979 (ALDA 1979), anyone producing beer not for “own use” mustregister the intention to produce beer at least 14 days before they start producing. SeeX-8 Beer Duty.

They must also nominate premises from which the beer will be produced. These premises mustbe registered with us

Once produced, the beer is packaged for sale either by the brewer or by a packager who isnot the brewer. Under s.41A of ALDA 1979, the brewer or the packager may apply to beregistered as “holders” of the beer, which means that they can package the beerwithout paying duty on it.

“Holders” may package and sell-on beer they brew, beer brewed by otherbreweries, of beer imported from outside the UK.

Duty is due when the beer is produced, or when it is imported into the UK. Beer isproduced when the earliest of any of the following events takes place

  • the beer is put into bottles, cans, casks, and kegs or similar containers
  • beer is removed in bulk for packaging
  • beer is put into containers for delivery in bulk to pub cellars
  • the beer is removed from registered premises to unregistered premises
  • the beer is consumed
  • the beer is irregularly diverted or
  • the beer is fit for consumption. Except for cask-conditioned beer, we would normally expect beer to be fit to drink at some stage before it is packaged.

The registered brewer or packager

The registered brewer or packager who is holding the beer at the time when beer dutybecomes liable to be paid is liable to pay the duty due, whether or not that personactually owns the beer.

Regulation 19 (1) of the Beer Regulations 1993 [S.I 1993/1228] (“theRegulations”), provides:

“The person liable to pay the duty shall be the person holding the beer at the dutypoint.”

Registered brewers and holders must render monthly returns to Beer Duty Collection Unit inLiverpool, by the 15th of the following month (Regulation 21 (1) of the Regulations).

Beer duty is payable when it passes the duty point (i.e. when it leaves duty suspension).Normally, the duty should be paid by the 25th day of the following month. Regulation 20(2)of the Regulations provides:

“Where the person liable to pay the duty is a registered brewer or holder

save as the Commissioners otherwise direct

the duty shall be paid not later than the 25th day of the month next following the monthcontaining the duty point in relation to the duty.”

Where the due date is not a working day, the due date is changed to the last working daybefore that day. Exceptionally, in cases of poor compliance or incipient insolvency we mayrequire returns every week.

Persons with joint and several liability for beer duty

A person who is not holding the beer at the time when the duty becomes liable to bepaid may be jointly and severally liable for unpaid duty if:

  • the person produced the beer
  • the person imported the beer or
  • the person held the beer under duty suspension at any time before the duty point and
  • that person cannot show a receipt in respect of the transfer of beer in duty suspension.

Regulation 19(2) of the Beer Regulations 1993, provides:

“Any person (not being a person specified in [regulation 19(1), who imported beer,who produced beer or who held the beer under duty suspension arrangements at any timebefore the duty point and, who does not hold a certificate of receipt for the beer withrespect to every holding of the beer by him shall be jointly and X-5 Wine and ciderguidelines. severally liable to pay the duty with the person specified in [Regulation19(1)] provided that –

(a) no person shall be so liable before the 30th day following the day of despatch of thebeer in question; and

(b) a person shall cease to be so liable upon his receiving the certificate of receipt inquestion or upon his satisfying the Commissioners that the beer in question was receivedby the consignee in circumstances where a valid certificate of receipt could and shouldhave been issued.”