Excise guidelines for the alcohol industry

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04 LICENSING: Suspension & cancellation

4.1 PURPOSE

4.2 INTRODUCTION

4.3 POLICY AND PRACTICE

4.3.1 WHAT HAPPENS IF I CEASE MY EXCISE BUSINESS?

4.3.2 WHEN CAN YOU SUSPEND AND/OR CANCEL MY LICENCE?

4.4 PROCEDURES

4.4.1 SERVICE OF NOTICES

4.4.2 WHAT DO I DO IF I NEED MORE INFORMATION?

4.5 WHAT PENALTIES CAN APPLY TO OFFENCES IN RELATION TO SUSPENSIONS AND CANCELLATIONS

4.6 TERMS USED

4.7 LEGISLATION (quick reference guide)

4.1 PURPOSE

This chapter deals with:

  • what happens when you cease your business
  • when your licence can be suspended or cancelled
  • service of notices, and
  • penalties that can apply to offences in relation to suspensions and cancellations.

4.2 INTRODUCTION

Your licence remains in force until it expires or is cancelled. However, activities approved under your licence may be restricted if we suspend your licence. Suspension may be a temporary measure or may lead to the cancellation of your licence.

We can cancel your licence if:

  • you ask us to do so (for example, where you intend to cease business), or
  • we make a decision to do so because one or more of the following criteria are present:
    • you or an associate are not 'fit and proper' as an individual or company
    • a director, officer or shareholder who participates in the management or control of the company is not a 'fit and proper' person
    • a person who participates in the management or control of the premises is not a 'fit and proper' person
    • you do not have, or have available to you, the skills and experience required to carry out the activity authorised by the licence
    • the physical security of the premises is inadequate
    • the plant and equipment used at the premises are such that there is inadequate protection of the revenue in relation to the goods at the premises
    • you have no market for the goods covered by the licence
    • you are not keeping proper books of account for audit purposes
    • you have breached a condition of your licence
    • you have made a false or misleading statement to us [90]
    • cancellation is necessary for the protection of the revenue, or
    • cancellation is necessary to ensure you comply with excise law.

4.3 POLICY AND PRACTICE

4.3.1 WHAT HAPPENS IF I CEASE MY EXCISE BUSINESS?

Your licence conditions require you to notify us within 30 days if you permanently cease activities that require an excise licence. To finalise your excise obligations you must request in writing a cancellation of your licence.

Before we can cancel your licence we must be satisfied that you no longer have any excisable alcohol products . To be satisfied of this we may:

  • arrange a final audit of goods at the licensed premises, and
  • work out if you are liable to pay any excise duty.

Although your licence conditions require you to notify us within 30 days of cessation of activities, you are encouraged to notify us at the earliest opportunity. This will enable us to assist you to check your records and any stock on hand prior to closure of the site for excise purposes.

If you want to sell your business with the stock included, we can coordinate your licence cancellation with the licence approval for the new owner. (This does not mean that the new owner will automatically be granted a licence). This will ensure the premises and goods are covered by a licence at all times.

If you do not intend to sell the goods with your business, you can:

  • pay any outstanding excise duty on goods held at the licensed premises and then dispose of them as you wish, or
  • move the goods to another licence holder's premises, provided you have permission from us to move goods to those premises. [91]

We will cancel your licence by giving you written notice. [92]

4.3.2 WHEN CAN YOU SUSPEND AND/OR CANCEL MY LICENCE?

What is the difference between suspension and cancellation?

Suspension of a licence is a temporary measure we may take that limits the activities you can undertake during the period of suspension. It could be followed by cancellation of the licence or revocation of the suspension. Cancellation is a permanent measure which has the effect of prohibiting you from undertaking the activities for which you were previously licensed.

When can you suspend or cancel my licence?

We can suspend or cancel your licence if we have reasonable grounds for believing: [93]

  • you are not 'fit and proper' as an individual or company *
  • a director, officer or shareholder who participates in the management or control of the company is not a 'fit and proper' person *
  • a person who participates in the management or control of the premises is not a 'fit and proper' person *
  • you are an associate of a person or a company that is not 'fit and proper' *
  • you do not have, or have available to you, the skills and experience required to carry out the activity authorised by the licence *
  • the physical security of the premises is inadequate *
  • the plant and equipment used at the premises are such that there is inadequate protection of the revenue in relation to the goods at the premises
  • you have no market for the goods covered by the licence *
  • you are not keeping proper books of account for audit purposes
  • you have breached a condition of your licence
  • you have made a false or misleading statement to us
  • suspension is necessary for the protection of the revenue * , or
  • suspension is necessary to ensure that you comply with excise law.

* For an explanation of these criteria, please refer to '3.3.1 - Licensing criteria' in Chapter 3 - Licensing: Assessing applications .

The criteria that have not been the subject of previous discussion in this guide are covered below:

  • you are not keeping proper books of account for audit purposes. For this criterion, we are assessing your actual record keeping practices during the licence period and whether they are in an adequate state for an audit.
  • you have breached a condition of your licence. A breach means you have not complied with a condition. In deciding whether or not to suspend we will take into account the following:

    1. the severity of the breach
    2. the circumstances surrounding the breach
    3. what the condition is (i.e. the risk it is addressing).
  • you have made a false or misleading statement to us. In considering your initial application, the false or misleading statements we take into account are in your application. Once you have been granted a licence, we can take into account any statements (including for example in a return, letter or response to a question) you have made in relation to your excise activities.
  • suspension is necessary for the protection of the revenue to ensure you comply with excise law . Where we consider that you are not complying with your obligations under the Excise Act, for example, if you have been manufacturing excisable alcohol products in contravention of your manufacturer licence.

What happens if you suspend my licence?

If we believe your conduct warrants consideration of suspension of your licence we will generally advise you of our concerns and provide you with an opportunity to rectify the issues identified.

If we decide to suspend your licence, this will be done by serving a Notice of suspension . The notice may be served on you, or given to a person who appears to participate in the management or control of the licensed premises.

A Notice of suspension will state that, if you want to stop the cancellation of your licence, you must provide us with a written statement, within seven days of the notice being served, giving reasons why your licence should not be cancelled. We will include our reasons for deciding to suspend your licence with the Notice of suspension .

The notice will also state when the suspension takes effect, which could be immediately.

When your licence is suspended, unless you have written permission from us, it is against the law to:

  • if you are the holder of a manufacturer licence, manufacture excisable alcohol products, or
  • if you are the holder of a storage licence, keep or store excisable alcohol products at licensed premises. [94]

During the period of suspension we may give you written permission to: [95]

  • keep or store goods at your licensed premises
  • carry out a process at your premises, or
  • move goods from your premises to another place.

As a result of a suspension, we may:

  • require the owner (you or a third party) of excisable alcohol products to move the goods from your premises to another place
  • require payment of any costs incurred by us as a result of the suspension
  • carry out a stocktake so that the total excise liability is known, and
  • take control of your licensed premises and any excisable alcohol products stored at these premises.

If we suspend your licence we have 28 days to cancel your licence. During this period we can revoke the suspension if you satisfactorily address the issues which led to the suspension. If we revoke a licence suspension we will do so in writing. We may impose additional conditions or allow you to resume your excise activities under the existing conditions.

All decisions in relation to the suspension of a licence are reviewable by lodging an objection within 60 days of the day we notify you.

For more information about your review rights refer to Chapter 8 - Reviews and objections .

What happens if you cancel my licence?

We can cancel your licence for the same reasons we can suspend your licence.

We can cancel your licence without previously suspending your licence. This may occur where we consider the issues require immediate action. For example systemic delivery of excisable alcohol products without payment of required duty.

If we cancel your licence we will serve you with a Notice of cancellation . If we cancel your excise licence, you are not permitted to manufacture or store excisable products. You are also not permitted to move excisable alcohol products without our permission.

The notice may be served on you, or given to a person who appears to participate in the management or control of the licensed premises. We will include our reasons for deciding to cancel your licence with the Notice of cancellation .

At the same time, we will serve the owner of the excisable alcohol products (whether that is you or someone else) notice in writing to either:

  • pay the duty on the goods, or
  • move the goods to another place in accordance with our permission.

This notice is served in the same manner as the Notice of cancellation .

If the owner does not comply with the notice to pay duty or move the goods, then we may sell or dispose of the excisable alcohol products. [96]

If we cancel your licence, you must retain all records that you have been directed to keep, for the period you have been directed.

Special provisions in regard to cancellation of a licence relating to beer manufacture

The law differs in some respects with regard to a licence cancellation where you have a licence to manufacture beer: [97]

  • We may dispose of any beer remaining at your former licensed brewery premises after one month, if duty has not been paid. Disposal includes moving the beer from your premises.
  • If the beer is unsaleable or unlikely to realise the amount of the duty and costs associated with its removal and sale, we may destroy it.

If you are not satisfied with our decision to cancel your licence or dispose of your excisable goods, you can request a review of our decision by lodging an objection within 60 days of the day we notify you. [98]

For more information about your review rights refer to Chapter 8 - Reviews and objections .

Can I apply for another licence if I have had a licence cancelled?

Yes, you can apply for another licence. However, we will take the reasons for the cancellation into account when considering any new application.

4.4 PROCEDURES

4.4.1 SERVICE OF NOTICES

Notices of suspension or cancellation and directions to deal with excisable alcohol products will be served either: [99]

  • personally or by post [100] on you, or
  • personally on a person who, at the time the notice is served, appears to participate in the management or control of the licensed premises.

4.4.2 WHAT DO I DO IF I NEED MORE INFORMATION?

If you need more information on suspension or cancellation of a licence contact us via:

the Business Portal

phone on 1300 137 290
fax at 1300 130 916 ,
email at alcohol@ato.gov.au , or
mail to
Australian Taxation Office
PO Box 3514
ALBURY NSW 2640

We will ordinarily respond to electronic requests within 15 business days. We will ordinarily finalise private rulings within 28 days of receiving all necessary information. If we cannot respond within 28 days, we will contact you within 14 days to obtain more information or negotiate an extended response date.

4.5 WHAT PENALTIES CAN APPLY TO OFFENCES IN RELATION TO SUSPENSIONS AND CANCELLATIONS

The following are the penalties that may apply after conviction for an offence.

Manufacture

If you manufacture excisable alcohol products when your manufacturer licence is suspended, the penalty is a maximum of two years in prison or the greater of 500 penalty units and five times the amount of duty on the excisable alcohol products. [101]

Keep or store

If you store excisable alcohol products when your storage licence is suspended, the penalty is a maximum of two years in prison or the greater of 500 penalty units and five times the amount of duty on the excisable alcohol products. [102]

Remove

If your licence has been cancelled or expired, you must not without permission remove excisable alcohol products, on which duty has not been paid, from the premises specified in the licence. The penalty is a maximum of two years in prison or the greater of 500 penalty units and five times the amount of duty on the excisable alcohol products. [103]

If your brewery licence has been cancelled, or has expired and has not been renewed, you must not, without permission, remove or cause to be removed any beer on which duty has not been paid, from the premises specified in the licence. The penalty is a maximum of 50 penalty units. [104]

4.6 TERMS USED

Excisable alcohol products

Excisable goods are goods on which excise duty is imposed. Excise duty is imposed on goods that are listed in the Schedule to the Excise Tariff Act, or an Excise Tariff alteration, and manufactured in Australia.

As these guidelines deal with alcohol products, we have used the term excisable alcohol products.

Excisable alcohol products include:

  • beer
  • spirits
  • premixed drinks known as ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages
  • brewed beverages that are not beer, and
  • high strength spirit for non-beverage use, including denatured spirit.

Penalty units

Refer to section 4AA of the Crimes Act 1914 for the current value of a penalty unit.

4.7 LEGISLATION (quick reference guide)

In this chapter we have referred to the following legislation:

4.7.1 Excise Act 1901

Section 39G - When the Collector may suspend a licence

Section 39J - Method of suspension

Section 39K - Activities that are prohibited during suspension

Section 39L - Cancellation of licences

Section 39M - Removal of goods on cancellation etc. of licence

Section 39N - Removal of goods by Collector on cancellation etc. of licence

Section 39P - Service of notices

Section 39Q - Review of decisions

Section 77E - Removal of beer when licence ceases to be in force etc.

Section 77F - Disposal of beer by Collector on cancellation etc. of licence.

4.7.2 Excise Tariff Act 1921

The Schedule

4.7.3 Crimes Act 1914

Section 4AA - Penalty units

Excise guidelines for the alcohol industry
  Date: Version:
  1 July 2013 Original document
  1 July 2015 Updated document
  7 September 2017 Updated document
  21 February 2018 Updated document
  5 August 2019 Updated document
  4 June 2021 Updated document
You are here 9 July 2021 Current document

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