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Excise on beer

Your excise obligations if your business manufactures beer, stores underbond or sells beer.

Last updated 14 May 2023

Definition of beer

Beer is generally subject to excise duty. Other than in limited circumstances, you need an excise licence to manufacture it. Manufacturing includes all the processes used to produce beer.

For excise 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 4 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)
  • does not 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.

For a further explanation of terms, see Alcohol excise and key terms.

Categories of excisable beer

The 2 categories of excisable beer where an excise licence is required are:

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

Beer not subject to excise

Home-brewed beer is not 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 alcohol (LALs) in a quarterly period
  • the goods are underbond
  • you haven't paid excise duty on them.

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

If you destroy more than 125 LALs in a quarterly period, you need to ask for permission from us first by lodging an Excise remission application.

Your excise obligations for beer

In summary, if you:

  • manufacture excisable beer, or store excisable beer underbond (on which duty hasn't been paid), you need an excise licence from us. You must comply with all of the conditions of your licence
  • 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).

You must keep accurate and complete records to help you meet your tax obligations and manage your business and cash flow. This is a legal requirement.

Understand what commercial beer is and how the excise duty rate is applied.

Understand licensing and your obligations if your business is a brew on premises shop (BOPs).

How to apply excise duty when you repackage commercial beer.