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HMRC internal manual

Excise Assessments Interim Guidance

Who to assess: assessments to excise duty

The assessment to duty only serves to establish the legally enforceable debt and so must follow chronologically from firstly a duty point and secondly a liability.

Before making and notifying an assessment to excise duty you must ensure that

  • an amount of excise duty has become due, and
  • you have identified the person liable to pay the duty.

The time when the duty becomes due

  • in the case of excise duty on goods, is determined by an excise duty point (see below), and
  • in the case of other excise duties, is determined by provisions relevant to the specific regime.

Provisions in various Acts and regulations specify the person liable to pay the duty.

For example the Tobacco Products regulations provides at paragraph 12 for the duty point whilst paragraph 13 provides for the liability to pay the duty.

Under section 1(1) of CEMA an excise duty point “has the meaning given by section 1 of the Finance (No 2) Act 1992”, which provides for; “fixing the time when the requirement to pay any duty with which goods become chargeable is to take effect (“the excise duty point”).”

The tobacco products example given above is a simple example of regulations fixing an excise duty point.

In most cases the regulations that fix a particular excise duty point will also specify the person(s) liable to pay the duty at that duty point (as above). Where more than one person is liable to pay, the regulations may also specify whether that liability is to be both joint and several.