New Tax Stamp Approaches Needed to Protect Revenues

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At the Tax Stamp Forum, taking place 3-5 June in Vienna and organised by Reconnaissance International, there will be one crucial question under discussion – is the easiest way to increase revenues from tobacco and alcohol simply to increase taxation?

Governments lose billions in tax revenue as a result of illicit cigarettes and counterfeit alcohol - with EU countries losing €10 billion a year in tax from cigarettes alone. The response from some revenue agencies is to increase taxation but such a strategy may be counterproductive.

According to the American Mackinac Center for Public Policy, increasing taxation levels leads to an increase in smuggling – and Todd Nesbitt from the Mackinac Center will be joined by Roberto Iglesias from the World Bank to debate this issue in a panel discussion at the Tax Stamp Forum.

Tax stamps are being increasingly used to protect revenues, with the number used for alcohol set to increase by 55% between 2010 and 2015. A predominant theme at this year’s Forum is the potential use of smartphone technology for product authentication and traceability – with a dedicated half-day workshop exploring a range of options. A further panel discussion will debate the merits and drawbacks of replacing physical security methods with digital alternatives, as seven of the world’s top technology providers present digital methods to improve security through the tracking of tax stamps.

Other conference highlights include:

  • A review of key developments, including the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Protocol on Illicit Trade
  • Proposals under the EU Tobacco Products Directive
  • The view of a forensic examiner in authenticating tax stamps
  • Detailed case studies from around the world, including California, Kenya, Colombia, Turkey, Georgia, Kosovo and Russia

The event will also play host to the inaugural ‘Excellence In Tax Stamp Awards’, with 13 organisations chasing three prestigious awards (Best Design, Best Innovation and Best Tax Stamp Programme).

The Tax Stamp Forum is the only global event of its kind, bringing together tax and custom authorities, law enforcement agencies, regulators, integrators and over 30 specialist exhibitors to discuss the issues and problems caused by illicit tobacco and alcohol.

For full details of all presenters and presentations, visit or contact Reconnaissance International on +44 0-193-278-5680.

Note to Editors
According to BAT, it is estimated that 6-12% of global consumption is in the form of illicit cigarettes, amounting to 330-660 billion cigarettes and resulting in annual losses to governments of US$20-40 billion in unpaid taxes. The International Federation of Spirits Producers places the worldwide loss through counterfeiting of spirits at between €600 and €900 million a year

In 2010, 127.3 billion tax stamps were issued for cigarettes and 23 billion tax stamps for alcohol worldwide. By 2015, it is estimated that this will grow to 134.7 billion tax stamps for cigarettes and 35.4 billion for alcohol.

Reconnaissance International is the leading source of information on the tax stamp industry. The Company publishes the monthly Tax Stamp News®, the global business newsletter of the tax stamp industry, and also researches and publishes a technical study and market report on tax stamps. It has organised the Tax Stamp Forum since its inception in 2009.

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Astrid Mitchell
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