What do we mean by alcoholic beverages?
Alcoholic beverages contain alcohol that may be the result of fermentation (fermented beverages) or distillation (distilled beverages), or they may contain alcohol resulting from a mix of these two processes. Other products may be added to these base beverages and thus alter their definition.
Within the meaning of Community regulations related to excise duties, alcoholic beverages are beverages whose alcohol by volume (ABV) is more than 1.2% (with the exception of beer, which is labelled as an alcoholic beverage when its ABV is 0.5% or more).
This definition for tax purposes should be distinguished from the definition set out in the French Public Health Code (Legifrance.gouv.fr) and the one used to set rates, according to which all beverages whose ABV is more than 0.5% are considered to be alcoholic beverages.
For the purposes of defining a beverage's tax regime, only the tax definition should be taken into account.
When determining the tax regime applicable to certain beverages (alcohol and intermediate products), it is necessary to know their position in the Combined Nomenclature (CN) of the Common Customs Tariff. The classification can play a role with respect to fermented beverages other than wine, beer, cider, perry and mead.
On the other hand, it has no effect on the determination of the tax regime for wine, cider, perry and mead.
The legal framework
The rates and structures of excise duties for alcohol and alcoholic beverages are set out in Community legislation. They are defined in the following Directives.
- Council Directive 92/83/EEC of 19 October 1992 on the harmonization of the structures of excise duties on alcohol and alcoholic beverages and,
- Council Directive 92/84/EEC of 19 October 1992 on the approximation of the rates of excise duty on alcohol and alcoholic beverages
This legislation has been enacted into the French General Tax Code:
- Categories of alcohol and alcoholic beverages subject to excise duty and the method for calculating duty. The categories include:
- Fermented beverages other than beer and wine (for example, cider and perry)
- Intermediate products (such as port and pineau)
- Ethyl alcohol and spirit drinks
The minimum tariffs applicable to these products; in addition, the reduced tariffs for certain very specific categories of beverages are also authorised by these two Directives.
Taxes on alcohol and alcoholic beverages in France
Provided these rules are followed, the Member States have some discretionary powers to adapt their tax regime to the economic and social reality of the production and sale of alcoholic beverages.
The French tax regime applicable to alcohol and alcoholic beverages is based on these provisions that have been enacted into the French General Tax Code.
VAT is also charged on these alcoholic products.
Moreover, certain beverages are liable for taxes for specific public health reasons. This is particularly the case for the contribution on alcoholic beverages whose ABV is more than 18% (the so-called "premix tax").
Duties on alcohol, alcoholic beverages and non-alcoholic beverages are set each year by order.
Excise duties applicable as of 1 January 2018
Duties on alcohol, alcoholic beverages and non-alcoholic beverages that are applicable as of 1 January 2018 are listed in Official Customs Bulletin no. 7212 of 10 January 2018, following on from the Circular of 10 January 2018 relative to duties on alcohol, alcoholic beverages and non-alcoholic beverages that are applicable as of 1 January 2018.