Alcohol and fuel excise rules will be simplified by the federal government, in a bid to reduce red tape costs for manufacturers, importers and distributors.

Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar said the Morrison government will review Australia’s excise and excise-equivalent customs duty regime to identify “unnecessarily cumbersome and duplicative processes”.

Alcohol excise will be simplified. 

The consultation will not examine the base or rates of taxation, but rather focus on enhancing the administrative efficiency of excise and excise-equivalent customs duty regimes.

Excise is a commodity-based tax currently levied on beer, spirits, fuel and petroleum products and tobacco.

The tobacco sector will be excluded from the red tape review.

Preliminary discussions with industry suggest the excise regime is wasting the time and money of both businesses and regulators, according to the federal government.

The government will consult with fuel producers, large-scale brewers and distillers and small-and medium-sized enterprises, and microbusinesses in the beer and spirits sector.

Earlier consultations by the Australian Taxation Office and the former Department of Immigration and Border Protection identified several issues that might benefit from reform.

At present excisable goods are forced to be stored in a warehouse system.

The timing of the tax liability for excise and excise-equivalent customs duty are generally out of synchronisation and administratively inconsistent with other federal indirect taxes such as the GST.

There is also duplication of laws governing excise and a lack of digitisation of regulation.

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ben Morton said feedback from relevant industry participants had indicated the regimes impose unnecessary costs on businesses, and time imposts on skilled officials from the ATO and Australian Border Force.

“The comprehensive review aims to cut regulatory overheads for business, supporting new investments in our fuel security and world-leading beverage manufacturing sector, while enabling ATO and ABF officers to focus on higher-risk enforcement efforts,” Mr Morton said.

Businesses that manufacture, produce or store excisable goods in Australia generally need to have an excise licence and may have to pay excise duty.

Excise and excise-equivalent customs duty raise about $40 billion annually in government revenue.

Mr Morton also announced a new deregulation taskforce for reforms to reduce regulatory overlap between the federal and state governments.

“Too often, Australian businesses have to deal with unnecessarily overlapping or duplicative regulations, and/or duplicative regulatory compliance activities, overseen by Commonwealth, state, territory and international regulatory bodies, which increase costs and impede business investment, economic growth and job creation,” he said.

“The COVID-19 crisis has shown what is possible when regulators are flexible and the states and territories work in close partnership with the Commonwealth.

“Without watering down safeguards, we need to continue streamlining regulatory processes.”

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and state leaders agreed to streamline the existing administrative approvals for proposed projects covered by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation [EPBC] Act via a “single touch decision” at the state level, before bigger reforms of the EPBC soon to be recommended by businessman Graeme Samuel.

They also announced that an agreement had been reached on reforms to licensing rules for tradespeople, to better harmonise work registration and to allow workers to move around more easily for jobs.

Tradespeople, property agents, hairdressers, teachers and hundreds of other vocational workers would be able to cross state borders to work with minimum fuss once the changes are implemented.

Queensland said the state would retain a veto right on mutual recognition, to ensure community safety and high standards of occupational licensing.

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