HMRC aims to stamp out alcohol tax evasion

Officials at HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have warned that alcohol traders face substantial penalties if they fail to register for the tax authority’s Alcohol Wholesale Registration Scheme.

Retailers have been given until March 31st to sign up to the initiative and if they fail to do so they could face fines of up to £10,000 and the threat of a criminal conviction.

HMRC is cracking down following concerns that around £1.2billion is lost each year as a result of businesses who fail to pay alcohol taxes.

As of next year, retailers will only be able to buy alcohol through wholesalers who have been approved by HMRC, with the authority publishing a list of these sellers online.

Laura Pollard, HMRC’s deputy director for alcohol and tobacco, said: “Do not run the risk of being hit with a fine. Give yourself plenty of time to get your application done on time.

“Any business selling alcohol to other businesses should check whether they need to apply. Don’t leave it too late.

“[The scheme] will help hardworking, legitimate businesses by ending the illegal competition from traders selling illicit alcohol.”

There have, however, been criticisms that the tax authority hasn’t done enough to make the form accessible, with concerns that it is only available online.