The Tax Stamp Forum: Combating the Illicit Trade in Alcohol and Tobacco

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Experts meeting in at the Tax Stamp Forum ( in London later this summer will outline new ways of tackling the illicit trade in alcohol and tobacco which costs governments billions of dollars a year in lost revenue

Tax stamps are a proven means of authentication and fiscal verification

It is estimated that worldwide $40-50 billion a year is lost in government revenues due to illicit trade, contraband and counterfeiting

Global anti-counterfeiting, security and anti-smuggling specialists will join representatives from manufacturers and government agencies at the second Tax Stamp Forum (14 – 15 June) in London, organised by publishers and consultants Reconnaissance International (http://www

They will be discussing how excise stamps tax stamps can be part of an effective strategy to combat the costly problem of excise evasion illicit trade and product fraud under an overallthe Tax Stamp Forum theme of ‘Effective Programmes to Maximise Revenues’.

Excise duty on tobacco and alcohol is an important source of revenue for governments but this is continually under threat from organised criminals and others around the world who practice illicit trade. in illegal products.

The problems of smuggling are compounded by the explosion in counterfeit products and with the illicit trade providing a major source of funding for criminal and terrorist organisations.

In the UK, the cost to taxpayers of counterfeit cigarettes tobacco alone is estimated to be in excess of £3 billion a year, while in the US tobacco products giant Philip Morris USA has filed dozens of cases in recent times aimed at stopping the sale of counterfeit cigarettestobacco.

Overall, it is estimated that worldwide $40-50 billion a year is lost in government revenues due to illicit trade, contraband and counterfeiting.

One way governments can protect themselves and excise revenue sources is advanced tax stamps combining security with unique product ID as a way of securing tax excise collection and proof of payment. This proof of authenticity can also protect the interests of manufacturers which have products targeted by counterfeiters, smugglers and other criminals.

The second Tax Stamp fForum will build on the success of the first one in looking at the latest tax stamp systems and the best ways to use them

Technologies and systems to help government revenues and decrease contraband and counterfeit products with tax stamps will be showcased while the wider debate will examine the broader socio-economic and regulatory impact of these initiatives around the world.

There will also be case studies from revenue agencies and suppliers demonstrating the implementation of tax stamp programmes around the world.

The programme includes presentations from HMRC, the US Federation of Tax Administrators, the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Illicit Trade, Altria, the International Federation of Spirits’ Producers, the Tobacco Merchants Association and the European Commission (TAXUD) on topics ranging from the problems posed by the illicit trade to new regulations and legislation and enforcement initiatives.

A key feature of the event will be the case studies, which include tax stamp programmes in Mauritius, Ireland, California, Massachusetts, Ukraine and Belarus

With track and trace uppermost on the agenda of regulators and manufacturers, particularly given the failure of the parties of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to reach an agreement on a global tracking system for cigarettestobacco, much of the session on technologies solutions will be dedicated to solutions that combine product authentication and fiscal verification in one solution. .

Reconnaissance International’s Astrid Mitchell said: “Continuing tough global trading conditions mean governments remain under pressure to secure tax revenue streams from alcohol and tobacco products. The forum second Tax Stamp Fourm will show governments how they can achieve this while combatting illicit trade.

“Manufacturers and distributors will find out how they too can benefit while suppliers of components, products and systems will be able to see how tax stamps can be tailored to provide effective, practical and affordable solutions for customers.”

The Tax Stamp Forum ( is the first global event to focus on the rapidly-growing and evolving field of tax stamp specification, production and implementation for alcohol and tobacco products. This year’s Tax Stamp Forum will be held in London 14 - 15 June.

Reconnaissance International provides events, publications and consultancy for holography and on authentication for document security, personal identification and brand protection. Recnnaissace International produces the newsletter and information source Tax Stamp News (


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Astrid Mitchell
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