Illicit trade in tobacco products
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ILLICIT TRADE IN TOBACCO PRODUCTS. International Tax and Investment Center Presenter: Elizabeth Allen. WHAT IS ILLICIT TRADE IN TOBACCO PRODUCTS?.

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Illicit trade in tobacco products

ILLICIT TRADE IN TOBACCO PRODUCTS

International Tax and Investment Center

Presenter: Elizabeth Allen


What is illicit trade in tobacco products

WHAT IS ILLICIT TRADE IN TOBACCO PRODUCTS?

  • WHO FCTC “any practice or conduct prohibited by law and which relates to the production, shipment, receipt, possession, distribution, sale or purchase including any practice or conduct intended to facilitate such activity.”

    Main categories are:

    • Illicit Imports

    • Illegal Domestic Production


Nature of the problem

NATURE OF THE PROBLEM

  • Illicit imports - smuggled across borders

    • Genuine legal products

    • Products produced legally or “off record” in another country – sometimes specifically for smuggling

    • Counterfeit products - often from the Middle and Far East

  • Illicit domestic production - evading local taxation

    • Off record production either by poorly controlled but licensed excise taxpayers or through completely off record producers

  • Smuggling

    • From third countries – borders to the east and from middle and far east – especially “cheap/illicit whites”

    • Across uncontrolled borders between EU Member States (especially alcohol escaping from the bonded warehouse system)

  • Counterfeit

    • Off record factories within the EU

    • Counterfeit products from the Middle and Far East

  • Local Tax Evasion

    • Off record production either by poorly controlled excise taxpayers or through completely off record producers.


Estimating the size of the problem

ESTIMATING THE SIZE OF THE PROBLEM

  • No reliable global statistics for tobacco products

  • KPMG Project Star estimates illicit cigarettes in the EU in 2012 at 11.1% - or 65.5 billion cigarettes - resulting in an estimated Euro 12.5 billion in lost tax revenues to Member States.

  • Euromonitor International 2012 estimates that 10% of all cigarettes consumed in the world are illicit costing governments between US$40 and 50 billion.


Measurement methodologies

MEASUREMENT METHODOLOGIES

  • Seizures?

  • Household surveys/consumption estimates compared with tax-paid products?

  • Smoker surveys?

  • Empty pack and cigarette butt collection and analysis?

  • International trade data?

  • Street prices of illicit goods?


Why cigarettes

WHY CIGARETTES?

SUPPLY

  • Economic drivers

  • Protectionist policy measures

  • Light and portable

  • Inadequate enforcement including control of “Free Zones” and porous borders

  • Corruption

  • Inadequate penalties and time-consuming prosecution process

  • Not a political priority


Why cigarettes1

WHY CIGARETTES?

DEMAND

  • Unbalanced excise taxation policy

  • Affordability for consumers

  • Reliable organized crime suppliers with well organized distribution in areas of economic and social deprivation

  • Not seen as a “crime” – resentment

  • Sales to minors are illegal in most countries – forbidden fruit!


How to tackle it

HOW TO TACKLE IT?

A COMPREHENSIVE STRATEGIC APPROACH :

  • Understand and monitor the size and nature of the problem.

  • A balanced tax policy and effective tax collection.

  • Evaluate the main facilitators, including manufacturing and export controls, free zones and transit controls.

  • Analysis of existing legislation and regulations to ensure they work, that penalties are adequate and act as a deterrent.

  • A functioning judiciary.

  • Robust enforcement.

  • Educate the public – tackle demand as well as supply.

  • Build and strengthen national and international partnerships.

  • Develop regional consistency in administration as far as possible.


Components of a balanced tax policy

COMPONENTS OF A BALANCED TAX POLICY

Key considerations include:

  • Revenue required?

  • Structure and tax rates - Ad Valorem or Specific?

  • Level of external costs of consumption e.g. Healthcare, Crime?

  • Affordability and purchasing power of the consumer?

  • Tax rates in neighbouring countries/states?

  • Effectiveness of revenue and border controls?

  • Impacts on legitimate industry, employment and on illicit trade?

  • Health and other policy drivers e.g. Consumer protection, trade facilitation and crime reduction?


Excise tax structure options

EXCISE TAX STRUCTURE OPTIONS

  • “Ad valorem”

    • Based on customs procedure

    • Subject to valuation fraud

    • Favours lower quality , lower priced products

    • Provides a revenue safeguard against inflation

  • “Specific”

    • Based on content e.g. weight/size

    • Easier to audit and administer

    • Requires regular indexing to keep pace with inflation

    • In line with WHO, World Bank and academic views


Excise tax administration policy

EXCISE TAX ADMINISTRATION POLICY

EXCISE DOES NOT COLLECT ITSELF – Tax

administration legislation MUST support the Anti-Illicit

trade strategy adopting the principle that

Producing, storing, operating on and transporting excise goods tax-unpaid MUST be regarded as a privilege not a right.

And impose stringent penalties on illicit production,

storage and transportation of products.


Excise tax administration policy continued

EXCISE TAX ADMINISTRATION POLICY CONTINUED

All aspects of administration can and should contribute to minimizing illicit trade:

  • Licensing of excise operators; registration of retail outlets

  • Regulation of movements of tax unpaid goods

  • Bond/security requirements

  • Offences and penalties

  • Clarity and simplicity of legislation

  • Recovery of tax losses through asset confiscation

    Support voluntary compliance BUT enforce legislation robustly!


Excise tax administration continued

EXCISE TAX ADMINISTRATION CONTINUED

Ensure legislation enables you to:

  • Destroy seized illicit products, raw materials, and manufacturing equipment quickly;

  • Seize the means of transport of illicit goods;

  • Require all transporters of tax-unpaid goods to hold a special excise licence; and

  • Impose robust supply chain controls and interventions across manufacturing, tax free movements and on wholesale/retail sales.


Tax stamps and digital identifiers

TAX STAMPS AND DIGITAL IDENTIFIERS

  • Tax stamps aim at authentication (fake or real) and volume control (how much has been produced)

  • Paper tax stamps are easily counterfeited and provide consumers with false confidence. They can be costly and ineffective. Revenue authorities must control stamps and products!

  • Unique digital identifiers can track and trace the product (i.e. recreate the path of the product) across the supply chain providing for aggregation/disaggregation and for efficient and effective use by enforcement internationally BUT enforcement interventions will still be essential and what are the enforcement needs?

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Enforcement

ENFORCEMENT

ENFORCEMENT

  • A cross-government enforcement strategy including all national and local enforcement agencies and across the supply chain to final sales. All parties need adequate powers, resources and tools to act efficiently.

  • Analyse trends, use risk assessment, intelligence and mutual assistance to target illicit movements and smugglers.

  • Channels for co-operation with WCO , Interpol and with other countries and legitimate industry to make best use of combined intelligence , resources and supply chain controls.

  • A robust comprehensive anti-corruption strategy.

  • Enforcement authorities must be involved in policy discussions on tobacco regulation.


Some questions

SOME QUESTIONS

  • Is your legislation easy to understand and implement?

  • Does Customs get sufficiently involved in determining how other public sector organizations decide on and implement policy changes that can impact on illicit trade?

  • How do you measure illicit trade? And how frequently?

  • What proportion of illicit trade in tobacco products gets through your borders?

  • How effective are your country’s controls on domestic production and sales to consumers once illicit goods have found their way across borders undetected?


Questions for administrators

QUESTIONS FOR ADMINISTRATORS

  • Do you have appropriate legislative powers, offences and penalties?

  • Do you implement a robust anti-corruption policy?

  • Do you work across the public sector to reduce illicit trade?

  • Does your judiciary understand the implications of illicit trade and impose appropriate penalties?

  • Do you publicise your successes in the media?

  • Do you have a public awareness campaign about illicit trade and its implications?


Uk tobacco strategy partners

UK Border Force

HMRC/Border Force Partnership Agreement – commissioning anti-smuggling activity at the border

UK Regional Intelligence Units

HMRC Intelligence Officers embedded with other agency staff

National Crime Agency

HMRC is part of the newly formed NCA

Local Authorities

Joint working protocol dealing with tobacco offences

Vehicle & Operator Service Agency (VOSA)

Information sharing protocol between HMRC, VOSA and The Traffic Commissioners

Stakeholder engagement with targeted sectors:

Self Storage Association, Mail Boxes etc., International couriers

Advice notes and aide memoires issued to managers

UK TOBACCO STRATEGY PARTNERS


Uk collaboration with public health organisations

UK - Collaboration with public health organisations

  • Joined up tobacco control plans

  • Understanding the impact on the illicit market of any health-related policy initiatives

  • Regional programmes to tackle illicit tobacco for better health

  • Cross-government approach to illicit tobacco marketing & communications

    • to shift public behaviour and attitudes to illicit tobacco and reduce demand

    • drawing on expertise in health sector

    • agreeing key messages and how/when to target common audiences

    • achieving wider reach through pooled resources

  • Help to keep tackling illicit tobacco on the local authority agenda


The protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products

The Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products

  • Not all provisions of the Protocol are mandatory

    • Shall;

    • Shall endeavour to;

    • Shall as/where appropriate;

    • Shall consider;

    • Consistent with its national law;

    • If feasible; and

    • may include.


An example licensing

AN EXAMPLE - LICENSING

  • SHALL LICENSE – manufacture of tobacco products and manufacturing equipmentand import or export of tobacco products and manufacturing

  • SHALL ENDEAVOUR TO LICENSE, to the extent considered appropriate– transporting commercial quantities of tobacco products or

  • Question: Would it help customs if tobacco products transporters were to be required to be licensed?


Questions on track and trace

QUESTIONS ON “TRACK AND TRACE”

  • How do you want to be able to use the “Track and Trace” provisions of the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products?

  • What needs to be in place to enable you to make best use of the data that will be available?

  • Will Customs be involved in deciding on how best to implement track and trace in your country?

  • What transitional issues do you envisage ?

  • How do you expect illicit trade to adapt when the track and trace provisions are implemented?


And finally

AND FINALLY

  • Criminals always attack the weakest points in official controls - porous borders, corrupt officials, ineffective and predictable excise controls on industry, insufficient or poorly trained staff, poorly controlled transporters and wholesale/retail outlets, easily counterfeited tax stamps and inadequate facilities for examination at borders.


Thank you

THANK YOU


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