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  • Excise on beer

    Beer is generally subject to excise duty and you need an excise licence to manufacture it. You need to understand your excise obligations if you are in the business of:

    • manufacturing beer
    • storing underbond beer
    • selling beer.

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    Definition of beer

    For excises purposes, beer is a beverage that is brewed and:

    • is the product of the yeast fermentation of an aqueous extract of predominantly malted or unmalted cereals, but may also contain other sources of carbohydrates
    • contains hops, or extracts of hops, or other bitters so that the beverage has no less than four international bitterness units (or comparable bitterness if other bitters are used)
    • may have spirit distilled from beer added to it, but only if that spirit does not add more than 0.5% to the total volume of the final product
    • may have other substances (including flavours) added to it, but in the case of other substances that contain alcohol (other than beer spirit), the alcohol does not add more than 0.5% to the total volume of the final product
    • contains no more than 4% by weight of sugars (monosaccharide and disaccharide)
    • doesn't contain any artificial sweeteners
    • has an alcohol content of more than 1.15% by volume.

    You should be able to establish whether your product meets the definition of beer for excise purposes from your manufacturing specifications and processes. If you have questions or need help, you can contact us.

    Categories of excisable beer

    There are two categories of excisable beer:

    • Commercial beer – this is beer that's manufactured in commercial premises for commercial purposes.
    • Beer brewed in a brew on premises shop – this is beer brewed in particular premises using commercial facilities for non-commercial purposes.

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    Beer not subject to excise

    Home-brewed beer isn't subject to excise duty when it's produced for non-commercial purposes using non-commercial facilities and equipment. If you make this type of home-brewed beer, you:

    • don't need an excise licence
    • can't sell it (or offer it for sale).

    Limited automatic remission on certain quantities of beer

    You don't need our permission to destroy beer you manufacture that is damaged or not fit for consumption if:

    • you destroy less than (or equal to) 125 litres of pure alcohol in a quarterly period
    • the goods are under our control
    • you haven't paid excise duty on them.

    However, you need to keep detailed records of the goods you destroy because we may ask to see these records.

    If you destroy more than 125 litres of pure alcohol in a quarterly period, you need to ask for permission from us first. You can do this by lodging an Excise remission application.

    Manufacturing beer

    When we say manufacturing beer, we mean all the processes used to produce beer.

    See also:

    • ER 2012/1 Excise: the meaning of the expression 'manufactured or produced' for the purposes of the Excise Acts

    Repackaging duty-paid beer

    Generally, packaging isn't a manufacturing process for excise purposes. However, manufacturing beer has an extended meaning to cover repackaging duty-paid beer that was entered at a concessional rate. This may include filling growlers.

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    Summary of your excise obligations

    If you:

    • manufacture excisable beer, or store excisable beer (on which duty hasn't been paid), you need an excise licence from us
    • deliver excisable beer into the Australian domestic market (for home consumption), you must lodge an excise return and pay excise duty
    • import beer, instead of paying excise duty you generally pay an equivalent customs duty as this type of beer is an excise equivalent good (EEG).

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    Last modified: 15 Sep 2020QC 63544