Liquor tax

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Storage cellar for spirits

The liquor tax was until 31 December 2017 a German , by federal law regulated exchange rate , the revenue entirely to the federal state and the tariff was administered.

Legal position until December 31, 2017


The spirits tax was used to tax the consumption of spirits and goods containing spirits within Germany. The legal basis for the survey was the Spirits Monopoly Act . The spirits tax law was the result of the spirits monopoly that had existed in Germany for decades. The spirits tax was one of the excise taxes harmonized within the EC (along with the sparkling wine , intermediate product and beer tax ) and was subject to cross-border, EC-uniform monitoring. Wine is also subject to tax supervision, but no consumption tax is levied (tax rate: zero).

With an annual volume of around two billion euros, the tax on spirits represented one of the smaller excise duties. In the liquor tax was the sale of alcoholic beverages again added tax (since 1 January 2007 is 19%) collected (tax on tax).

History of the German spirits tax

The first documentary mentions of spirits taxes can be found in Germany as early as 1507 in the city of Nordhausen ( Nordhäuser Korn ). The tax to be paid was determined either according to the amount of raw material used or the performance of the still (" bubble rate "). The first spirits tax is introduced in England in 1660 . With the North German Confederation and the “North German Spirits Tax Community”, which has been in force in this area since 1873, there was the first uniform taxation of spirits.

With the aim of increasing income and further standardization, a first bill was introduced in 1886, which provided for the introduction of a liquor monopoly . Although the Reichstag did not approve this law, a first nationwide liquor tax law was passed in 1887 .

The subsequent company mergers in the alcohol production segment and the centralization of alcohol production and sales by the Reichsbranntweinstelle during the First World War led to a de facto monopoly-like situation, which was enshrined in law in the German Reich in the 1919 Law on the Spirits Monopoly. The Reich Monopoly Administration was granted the sole right to demand the delivery of the brandy produced domestically by the distilleries (purchase monopoly), to import brandy from other countries (import monopoly) and to produce alcohol from special raw materials (production monopoly).

After the end of the Second World War , the liquor monopoly was initially continued by the federal states and later largely retained by the Federal Republic of Germany. As a financial monopoly, according to Article 105 of the Basic Law, it is aimed at generating income for the federal government.

After a decision by the European Court of Justice in 1976, the import monopoly largely ceased to exist, because imports from other EC countries were no longer allowed to be burdened with import-hindering taxes after this decision. The cheaper alcohol from the other member states has since reduced the alcohol sales of the federal monopoly administration and, as a result, the spirits monopoly now requires an annual subsidy of over 100 million euros instead of generating surpluses. In order to reduce these losses, it was decided with the Household Restructuring Act 1999 to release the commercial cap distilleries from the purchase monopoly by 2007 and thus to return the marketing of the alcohol to the producers' hands.

Legal basis of the spirits tax

The regulations on tax assessment and collection were not, as is usual with other types of tax, regulated in an independent law, but in the second part of the Spirits Monopoly Act ( Section 130 ff. Spirits Monopoly Act ).

Tax object

According to the prevailing opinion, spirits should be understood as any product that contains ethanol as a key value-determining factor. This did not apply to products for which - like beer or sparkling wine - special provisions applied ( lex specialis ). All products made from brandy and all products containing brandy were subject to the spirits tax.

As a rule, brandy was obtained by distillation or synthesis - the production methods are described in detail under Schnapps and distillery . The range of spirits products is large and includes fruit brandy over the brandy to vodka , whiskey and blight . In addition, other products were also subject to the spirits control if they contained spirits. These were alcoholic goods that were made using brandy and whose alcohol content exceeded a certain limit. These could be a wide variety of products, from food flavorings to cosmetic products.

Tax rates and tax reductions

The spirits tax law contained different tax rates, which varied depending on the producer and the quantity produced. A discount was granted for small producers because they could not produce under the same conditions as large distilleries. Therefore, a reduced tax rate applied to both severance payment brandy and small distilleries to compensate for this disadvantage.

The assessment basis was the pure alcohol volume contained in the product , which would result after distilling off at a measuring temperature of 20 ° C. The following tax was payable on this:

Tax amount
per hectolitre of alcohol
in BrandwMonG
1303 € Section 131 (1) Standard tax rate
1022 € Section 131 (2) No. 1 for severance distilleries
730 € Section 131 (2) No. 2 for closure distilleries up to 4 hl alcohol per year
According to the standard tax rate of € 13.03 per liter of pure alcohol, a brandy tax of € 1.63 was charged on a 0.5 l bottle of liqueur with 25% alcohol and a 0.7 l bottle of rum (brown) with 40% alcohol € 3.65. If you also take sales tax into account and assume a sales price of € 9.99, almost a third (€ 3.22: € 1.63 spirits tax + € 1.59 included VAT) went for liqueurs and over half (5 , 24 €: 3.65 € VAT + 1.59 € VAT) of the retail price to the tax authorities .

Tax exemptions

Commercial re-use for the production of pharmaceuticals, food or other goods was tax-exempt. However, it was necessary to denaturalize the products beforehand in order to rule out that the product was misused for pleasure purposes. Tax-free use was also possible under certain conditions - for example in the production of pralines or pharmaceuticals. The aforementioned examples for tax-free use required a permit, which was granted in general in accordance with the provisions of the Spirits Monopoly Act and the Spirits Tax Ordinance.

Tax origin

In principle, the tax on goods subject to excise duty was created by removing brandy from the tax warehouse . The operation of a tax warehouse required a permit.

Tax debtor

The tax debtor was the operator of the tax warehouse, the closure distillery or the severance payment distillery. This could natural and legal persons , and (not) unincorporated body of persons to be.

Tax registration

A tax return had to be made regarding the amount of alcohol removed / used . A tax assessment was then issued for the tax incurred .

Due date

If the tax was incurred for spirits that had been taken into free circulation from a distillery or a distillery or that was consumed in such a tax warehouse, it had to be paid no later than the 7th day after the above. Tax assessments must be paid without further request by the due date at the latest. If the tax paid late, emerged late payment penalties .

Revenue of the liquor tax

From the taxation of the brandy, around two billion euros flowed into the federal coffers every year. The absolute volume has changed only slightly over the course of history. The income from the spirits tax was already 1.9 billion euros in 1977, which is close to today's revenue. After reunification, income rose slightly and in 1991 reached an all-time high of around 2.89 billion euros. Since 2004, the income has been constant at around 2 billion euros; Since then, the deviation from this value has never been more than 10 percent, i.e. less than ± 200 million euros.

The tax share of total tax revenue, however, has decreased drastically over time. This is due to the strong growth in general government tax revenue: while the latter rose more than 60 times between 1950 and 2016, the spirits tax revenue only increased 8 times over the same period.

1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2005 2010 2015 2017
Tax revenue in million euros 254 523 1,139 1,986 2.162 2.151 2.151 1,990 2,070 2,094
Share of total tax revenue 2.4% 1.5% 1.4% 1.1% 0.8% 0.5% 0.5% 0.4% 0.3% 0.3%

Health aspects of the spirits tax

Legal position since January 1, 2018

The design of the German spirits monopoly represented an EU-illegal aid for the distilleries. It was therefore repealed on December 31, 2017, the spirits tax regulations were adopted on January 1, 2018 from the Spirits Monopoly Act (Sections 130 et seq. Spirits Monopoly ) into the Alcohol Tax Act . The federal monopoly administration for spirits was dissolved at the end of December 31, 2018.

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Spirits tax  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Website of the General Customs Directorate: amount of the spirits tax ( Memento from September 4, 2017 in the Internet Archive )
  2. Federal Association of the German Spirits Industry and Importers: Data from the Alcohol Industry 2017, p. 14 . In: . Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  3. Tax revenue by type of tax in the years 2014 - 2017. (PDF; 81 kb) In: . Federal Ministry of Finance, August 28, 2018, p. 2 , accessed October 8, 2018 .
  4. Martin Greive: EU puts an end to the crazy subsidy idea Die Welt , September 25, 2013
  5. ^ Sabine Schröer-Schallenberg: The spirits monopoly in Germany . In: Journal for the entire food law (ZLR) . 2013, p. 159 ff .