The UK Rules
'Follow the Regulations'
Alcohol and Tobacco

Excise Duties Alcohol and Tobacco

UK Government levy an excise tax (sin tax) on some goods rated harmful to society. This guide lists the current duty rates for two of the most popular - alcohol and tobacco.

SIN TAX: So-called 'undesirable social activities' are subject to excise duties. Smoking and drinking are two of them.

The government treats the implementation of alcohol and tobacco duties as sumptuary taxes. That means the excise duty gets levied to prevent abuse and extravagance.

If you buy cigarettes, cigars, or loose tobacco, the price includes the different rates of Tobacco Duty.

Likewise, if you buy beer, cider, spirits, perry, wine, or 'made-wine', the price also includes the different rates of alcohol duties.

Note: Made-wines are any fermented alcoholic drinks that are not beer, cider, perry, wine, or spirits. The standard rate of VAT (twenty per cent) is ALSO payable on alcohol and tobacco products.

Duty Rates on Tobacco Products

Different rates apply to Tobacco Duty on cigarettes, cigars and certain other tobacco products.

Duty Tax on Beer

The strength of the beer (alcohol by volume) determines how much Beer Duty you would pay.

An Example: You buy a pint of 6.0% strength lager. Beer Duty for 6% strength lager is 19.08p per 1% of strength. Thus, 6% strength is 6 x 19.08p = 114.48p. A pint is 0.568 of per litre. Thus, the duty you would pay is 114.48 x 0.568 = 65.06p.

Cider Duty

The amount of Cider Duty paid on cider and perry gets determined by its strength (ABV). Different rates also apply to 'still' and 'sparkling' ciders and perries.

Wine Duty

The amount of Wine Duty paid on wine and made-wine gets determined by its strength (ABV). Different rates also apply to 'still' and 'sparkling' wine and made-wines.

Note: If the wine or made-wine is higher than 22% ABV then you would pay the same duty as spirits.

Spirit Duty

The amount you would pay is £28.74 of Spirit Duty per litre of pure alcohol.

An Example: You buy a bottle of Scotch whisky that is 70 ml (0.70 of a litre). Its ABV is 40%. Duty for a litre would be £28.74 x 40% = £11.50. A bottle that is 70% of a litre the duty is £11.50 x 70% = £8.05.

Excise Duty Rates on Alcohol and Tobacco in the United Kingdom