Excise Tax on Wine Backfiring, Shifting 65% of Sales to Black Market

In efforts to raise revenues for the state, in January 2016 the government introduced an excise tax on wine. However, figures show that instead of making the predicted 65 million euros annually for the state, the new take hikes have only managed to bring on just 4 million euros in the first six months of the year.

The reason for the drastic contrast between the predicted revenue and what is being reported is that a profitable black market dealing with wine has began to flourished.

The National Interprofessional Organization of Vine and Wine of Greece (EDOAO), responsible for the New Wines of Greece campaign, held a press conference recently to address this and other issues.

“The black market in wine has become highly organized since the excise tax was introduced in January. It existed before, but now the racket is run by big players,” George Skouras, the president of the Greek Wine Association (SEO) and a winemaker in Nemea, commented at the press conference. He explained, “They have built tanks underground so they can’t be spotted by inspectors and have people scouring the countryside to buy grapes illegally, without invoices, off the books.”

The numbers noted regarding the amount of wine that ends up being sold on the black market are staggering. Yiannis Vogiatzis, a vintner in northern Greece and president of EDOAO noted that some experts’ figures put the amount of wine consumed in Greece at only 35 percent being sold legally and subject to taxation, while 65 percent is sold illegally.

“The excise tax has ultimately acted as a punishment for those who want to do business legally,” Vogiatzis said.