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  • COVID-19 changes – excisable alcohol

    This is a time of significant uncertainty and we will need to be flexible in how we help business.

    We are committed to providing you with the latest information about how we will treat certain activities during these times.

    On this page:

    Production of hand sanitiser

    Hand sanitiser does not usually attract excise, as its alcohol content has typically been treated (denatured) to make it unfit for human consumption. Denatured spirit may also be suitable for making other commercial cleaning products and can be purchased without restriction.

    There are regulatory requirements that apply to the production and use of concessional spirits. You will need to apply for an ATO permit to purchase (undenatured) spirit from licensed manufacturers for use in the commercial production of hand sanitiser.

    Licensed distillers

    Distillers who already hold an excise manufacturer licence to produce or distil spirits can, without additional approvals, produce hand sanitiser and report it by using the free-rate tariff item on their Excise return.

    If you wish to repurpose existing alcohol, or manufacture alcohol, to supply hand sanitiser manufacturers without incurring an excise liability, simply report that by using the free-rate tariff item on your Excise return. This also applies to supplying other commercial manufacturers with concessional spirits – for example, to produce other cleaning products.

    Existing concessional spirit permit holders

    We will grant increases to the quantity of spirits that existing permit holders can obtain. You will need to contact us to organise this.

    Other entities

    Other excise-licensed entities (for example, breweries) can apply for permission to manufacture or obtain spirit for the purposes of producing hand sanitiser. We will fast-track these applications and aim to process them within 1–2 days.

    Once approved, you will report it using the free-rate tariff item on your Excise return.

    Other non-licensed entities, such as hospitals, pharmacists, health care practitioners, education institutions, and government institutions can all receive an unrestricted amount of concessional spirits to meet their manufacturing, scientific or medical needs. This does not require a permit.

    For new entrants to the market, regulations concerning the safe and proper handling, storage, transport and use of dangerous goods such as spirit, are governed by other relevant local, state and federal bodies. You will need to contact the relevant body in your state or territory for further information.

    Takeaway alcoholic beverages

    We are aware that state and territory liquor licensing requirements have been relaxed to allow the sale of takeaway alcoholic beverages during COVID-19 restrictions.

    We will not take compliance action in the following alcohol repackaging circumstances that would normally require you to have an excise manufacturer licence and pay excise duty:

    • Where alcohol service venues repackage duty-paid kegged beer for takeaway sale in sealed containers (such as growlers).
    • Where alcohol service venues use duty-paid alcoholic beverages to make ‘cocktails’ for takeaway sale in sealed containers.

    This applies from 23 March 2020 until 31 January 2021. Originally this arrangement only applied until 30 June 2020 but was then extended to 30 September 2020. This further extension to 31 January 2021 has been given in recognition of the ongoing and changing impacts COVID-19 is having on the alcohol industry.

    It applies to alcohol service venues that are allowed to sell takeaway alcohol under state and territory liquor licensing arrangements while they are subject to COVID-19 restrictions. For example, where the four-square metre rule applies or there are limits on the number of patrons allowed in an enclosed space.

    We will review these arrangements in January 2021 to determine whether a further temporary extension is required.

    Support for businesses impacted by COVID-19

    We are offering tailored support for your needs and circumstance on a case-by-case basis.

    For more information, see COVID-19.

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    Last modified: 22 Sep 2020QC 63541