20 February 2017
Retailers across the country are today calling on the Government to urgently consult with them on measures to tackle sales of illegal cigarettes and tobacco on Ireland’s streets. The UK revenue and customs, HMRC, last week launched such a consultation, with the focus in particular on repeat offenders. RAS note that we do not know the numbers of those who have been caught several times or more selling illicit products in Ireland. Following an informal targeted consultation in 2015, this new consultation is seeking views on four potential additional sanctions:
• increasing financial penalties for repeat offenders
• a new civil penalty for dealing in illicit tobacco
• reducing the threshold for the publication of details of people or companies that deliberately evade duty
• a statutory duty of care on landlords and landowners of properties or land
Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS) Leinster spokesperson Benny Gilsenan welcomed the consultation: “The proposals in this consultation are prime examples of what can be done with minimal effort to help tackle illegal tobacco sales and protect the legitimate, tax-paying retailers of Ireland. While some of the proposals mentioned are already in place in Ireland, Retailers are being undermined day in day out by sellers of illegal tobacco and we have real solutions to help tackle this problem. Our views must not be pushed to the sidelines, so today we are calling on the Government to look at what their European counterparts are doing and launch a similar consultation on making it an offense to purchase illicit products here in Ireland”.
The consultation also seeks views on the introduction of a new civil penalty for fiscal mark wrongdoings. Benny concluded: “RAS have been calling on the Government for the past number of years to make it illegal to purchase alcohol, solid fuel or tobacco products where the duty has not been paid. HMRC are already looking at where they can place this legislation, it is time the Irish Government listen to the legitimate retailers – with Brexit around the corner we need to protect tax-paying businesses from the impact of the growing black market”.