Finland: €2 Million Unpaid Alcohol Taxes From Online Stores
Following investigation, Finnish customs net nearly two million euros in unpaid alcohol taxes from online stores
Online liquor sellers have had to fork out more than €2 million in unpaid taxes to Finnish Customs. The payout follows intense scrutiny of online retailers selling alcoholic beverages in Finland.
In 2016, customs officials stepped up their investigations of online alcohol retailers as part of a programme targeting the so-called grey economy. The results showed that many online retailers had not paid up the required taxes on their alcohol sales.
Only tip of the iceberg of Big Alcohol tax avoidance
However Customs said that the €2 million it was able to recover may be just the tip of the iceberg. The agency estimated that delinquent online retailers could be cheating the state of as much as €10 million in unpaid taxes every year. Customs officials say that even this estimate is dated, given that the online alcohol trade has been growing rapidly.
Finnish Customs’ scrutiny of online retailers has focused mainly on large companies. The cases it investigated involved firms operating in Estonia, which have been running Finnish-language webshops that offer alcoholic beverages.
The process of recovering unpaid alcohol taxes from foreign online retailers was not a simple one, officials said. According to Raitolahti, this was not because of the legislation, but because the sellers are scattered across Europe.