For April Fools day on April the 1st, Troy put together an amusing blog that purported that the UK Government were to abolish tax on beer. It made me laugh, but then got me to thinking – “well, just how much revenue do they get from our pint of beer?”
Research on the internet found me a convenient table that compares the level of tax on alcohol by European country. The UK has an excise rate of £18.57 per % alcohol per hectolitre (that’s 100 litres) and that’s works out at 47.6p on each pint. But wait, then there is VAT at 20% added, so on a 3 quid pint, 60p is payable in VAT.
“For every pint you buy for £3, roughly £1.08 (36%) goes to the government.”
It’s worse when you think that as an average taxpayer, to get that £3, you probably paid the government another 75p, so in reality, every pint of beer you buy, the government gets about 61%!
So would we be better off living in Europe? Well not if you choose to live in Finland, Sweden or Ireland (even though Sweden does have a certain attraction!!) whose beer taxation rates are pretty similar to those of the UK. But living in France (0.05) and Spain (0.04) could be better. Other European countries have similarly low tax rates and the highest after those mentioned is Slovenia at 0.14. But then you can’t get a nice drop of ale, unless you buy it in a bottle!
It could be worse of course, as I see that Alcohol Concern are pushing the government to slug us another 10% in tax to “stop us causing self harm”(read article here.) Apparently increasing tax on alcohol has shown to reduce alcohol related deaths and they state it will reduce alcohol related deaths by a third. I personally am a bit dubious of such statistics. Perhaps it is just me, but I reckon of your gonna drink yourself to death, then the cost is going to be somewhat academic.
Other research suggests that ‘scientists have discovered that drinking alcohol frequently may reduce the severity of rheumatoid arthritis’ (read the article here.) That’s pretty good news, but then if you believe all the different opinions floating on the web there must be a pretty thin line between drinking to reduce arthritis or drinking yourself to death.
In these hard economic times, do your bit for England and get to the pub to buy yourself a pint. And when you hand over your hard earned cash, consider that at least you are spending it on a hand crafted product that will give you some personal enjoyment (even though it may only last 15 minutes!).
And it’s better than losing £50 quid in an afternoon at IKEA!