Alcohol Stakeholder Group record of meeting, May 2015

Meeting details

Venue: ATO Office, 747 Collins Street, Docklands, Melbourne

Date: 20 May 2015

Start: 10.00am Finish: 12.30pm

Chair: Tom Wheeler

Secretariat: Rowena Troth

Contact Phone: (02) 4923 1444


Tom Wheeler


Peter Holt


Andrew McIver


Anthony Barnard


Laurren Pamenter


Caraline Hill


Adam Friederich


George Nikolaou


Kieran Williams

Treasury Wine Estates

Michael Shearer

Coopers Brewery Ltd

Phil Doyle


Bob Smart


Sonja Icanovski


Stephen Riden

Distilled Spirits Industry Council Australia

David Vitale

Australian Distillers' Association

Priyanka Nagpaul


Chris Callen

Coca-Cola Amatil

Melissa Cheesman-Faull

Winemakers Federation of Australia

Robert Pelton


Alex Choo

Asahi Holdings Pty Ltd

Rowena Troth


Discussion Summary


The Alcohol Stakeholder Group agendas, minutes and related papers are not binding on the ATO, ACBPS or the other bodies referred to in these papers. While every effort is made to accurately record views expressed, the wording necessarily represents a summary of statements of general position only, and care should be taken in interpreting those statements. These papers reflect the position at the date of release (unless otherwise noted) and readers should note that the position on any issue may subsequently change.

Agenda Item 1 - Welcome

Welcome and introductions.


It was noted that the meeting minutes of 20 May 2014 were previously endorsed, and have been published online. There were no action items outstanding. No conflicts of interest were declared by members.

Tom Wheeler, on behalf of the ATO, acknowledged members' contributions over the last 12 months in assisting with consultation on treatment of boundary products between wine equalisation tax and Excise systems; consultation on understanding wine tax distributor margins; and development and cascading of communications regarding indexation of Excise alcohol products and the new Excise Regulations.

Agenda Item 2 - Compliance focus areas for 2015/16


Members noted the report by Andrew McIver advising that focus areas for 2015/16 would include correct reporting of wine producer rebate, examination of wine tax distributor margins and banner groups, and verification of New Zealand and non-resident wine tax rebate claims. Some enquiries will also be made to ensure wine quotations regarding intended use are being made correctly. It was noted that fines can apply if quotations were incorrect.

With regard to alcohol excise, there would be a focus on concessional spirits (permits), 'new-to-excise' beer and illicit distillation of spirits. This would include education to ensure clients were aware of what was required. There will also be a number of activities around Customs license warehouses.

Agenda Item 3 - Reinventing the ATO


Tom Wheeler provided an overview of the ATO's blueprint for reinvention. Members were advised of the work being carried out by the ATO with efforts to reduce red tape through deregulation and provide a contemporary service to make it easier for taxpayers to comply. Several examples were provided including the formation of a new Smarter Data program.

Laurren Pamenter provided excise micro-client eco-systems on distilling and brewing as examples being used to identify potential opportunities, gaps or irritants in the client experience. Positive feedback was expressed on the articulation of issues, and usefulness as a reference tool. It was suggested that the distilling eco-system include reference to exporting, and that the wording in the two documents align where relevant.

Members were invited to provide feedback on any key irritants, or areas for improvement in relation to the excise system. Feedback should be provided to: Laurren Pamenter on (03) 8601 9851, or email:

Peter Holt advised members of the formation of an ATO Safe Harbour Steering Committee. The Committee is made up of ATO senior officers and community members and would explore opportunities for new safe harbours. An Excise Working Group reports to that Committee. Once an area was identified, cost savings and revenue costs would be determined as well as possible options around that area which would then be submitted to the Steering Committee for consideration.

Action 20052015-3-1 - Members to provide feedback on the distilling and brewing client eco-systems. Due date: 19 June 2015.

Action 20052015-3-2 - Members are invited to suggest ideas for potential new safe harbours. Due date: 19 June 2015.

Action 20052015-3-3 - Peter Holt to provide specifics of ideas being considered for WET safe harbours. Action completed 29 June 2015.

Agenda Item 4 - Federal Budget and Tax White Paper updates


Members noted the extension of the GST Compliance Programme with States and Territories and the announcement by the Assistant Treasurer of statutory remedial powers for the Commissioner of Taxation. Likely parameters are that these can be used where there is an anomaly of the law but cannot be inconsistent with the policy intent and must be in favour of the taxpayer.

Many of the Budget announcements will assist with improved digital initiatives service offerings.

Adam Friederich referred to the Budget measure around a review of Customs licensing fees and charges impacting on the import of excise equivalent goods and warehouse storage.

Members noted that the Better Tax Discussion Paper was released on 30 March with Chapter 9 relating to indirect taxes, including the taxation of alcohol. Submissions are due by 1 June.

A Senate Inquiry into the grape and wine industry was announced on 25 March. Submissions are due by 22 May.

Agenda Item 5 - Industry / member updates


Excise Ruling ER 2012/1External Link - 'Excise: the meaning of the expression 'manufactured or produced' for the purposes of the Excise Acts' - members discussed that reduction of bulk spirit in Australia by manufacturers is required to comply with this ruling, ie the product will need to be classified as excisable.

Agenda Item 6 - Excise Regulations


Members noted that the Excise Regulations have been remade as of 1 April 2015. Language has been modernised and tables developed that lists the refund circumstances and timing rules. The return to bond refunds for beer, tobacco and fuel were previously three separate items but are now one. Customs Regulations have been through a similar process and the fundamentals have not changed.

Discussion was held regarding duty paid on stock returned to licensed premises.

Action 20052015-6-1 - Members to provide examples that need clarification and/or further guidance regarding the newly rewritten Excise Regulations. Due date: 19 June 2015.

Agenda Item 7 - Other Business


Statement of Intent - The new Statement of Intent was agreed by members.

Digital Communications - Tom Wheeler advised members of work being carried out on the ATO website, including the reduction of pages relating to fuel schemes from 900 pages to approximately 200. A similar review is going on relating to wine equalisation tax and Excise pages.

Tom encouraged members to ensure that mobile and email details are up to date, and encouraged use of the Business Portal.

Relationship managers: Members reiterated their appreciation and support of the services provided by the Relationship Managers in Indirect Tax.

There was no other business.

The meeting concluded at 12.30pm.

    Last modified: 24 Jul 2015QC 46518