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Stock control and access for excisable alcohol

Understand your responsibilities if your business holds an excise licence and stocks excisable alcohol.

Last updated 14 May 2023

Stock control

As an excise licence holder, you have specific responsibilities for your excisable alcohol stock, including:

  • stock control – for example, conducting stocktakes and contacting us about stock issues such as losses (including spillages) and theft
  • providing us with access to the premises specified in your excise licence.

You are responsible for the excisable goods in your possession, custody or control. We may require you to pay an amount equal to the excise duty that would have been payable on the goods if you:

  • fail to keep those goods safe
  • can't account for them to our satisfaction.

Stocktake requirements

You need to conduct regular stocktakes to:

  • check the accuracy of your stock records
  • identify security issues (such as theft)
  • identify problems with plant and equipment
  • identify omissions or errors in stock records.

Stocktakes for excisable alcohol products

We recommend you carry out stocktakes:

  • monthly, or at a minimum, quarterly
  • on a floor-to-book basis (that is, comparing the count of physical stock against the stock records).

For breweries, we recommend you:

  • compare the quantities of product on hand with book totals
  • update your stock records, if required.

For distilleries, we recommend you also:

  • dip bulk storage vessels
  • note temperatures
  • establish volumes in litres and litres of alcohol (LALs).

In addition for distillers where you haven't checked alcohol strength in the last 3 months, it's a good idea to:

  • re-test and record alcohol strength
  • update stock records such as the stillhouse and VAT registers.

You need to keep complete records of all stocktake results, along with the other record keeping for excisable alcohol activities.

Discrepancies beyond your normal losses

You need to tell us as soon as you can if any discrepancies in product stocks are beyond your normal losses that you would expect to see for your business during a particular process.

For example, if you usually incur a loss of about 100 litres when doing each bottling run but then incur a loss of 300 litres for one particular run, we would expect you to investigate it to determine the reason and advise us of the discrepancy.

You need to reset the cumulative loss or gain figures for each bulk storage vessel in stock records to zero after the stocktake survey.

Destroying stock

Unless products have been accidentally destroyed, you need our permission before you destroy any underbond excisable products. You must also keep detailed records of the goods you destroy. We may ask to see these records.

For information on destroying excisable goods subject to remission, see Excise remissions for excisable alcohol.

When you need to contact us

For the underbond alcohol stock you're responsible for, contact us to:

  • seek advice if you identify errors in your stock records
  • tell us about any
    • significant spillage
    • theft of product from your premises, or in transit to or from your premises
    • excessive losses
  • seek advice if underbond stock has been stolen – as the licence holder, you're responsible for accounting for the theft of underbond stock and paying duty on that stock
  • seek our permission to destroy any underbond excisable products
  • seek advice about whether you can offset stock gains against unaccounted shortages when you calculate duty payable on packaged stock losses.

We will tell you in writing if we decide that you need to pay an amount equal to the excise duty. We'll also advise you of your review rights at the same time.

ATO access to your premises

You must give ATO officers complete access, at all times, to every part of any factory, approved place or other premises specified in your excise licence.

Our officers may examine and take account of excisable goods in these premises and in vehicles