JD Wetherspoon boss calls for tax shift to off-trade

17 September, 2010

The boss of one of Britain’s biggest pub chains has said there should be a shift in tax burden from pubs to the off-trade.

JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin claimed alcohol-related problems in society had got worse as the balance of sales had shifted from the on-trade to take-home, suggesting that “pub consumption is preferable to off-sales”.

Martin argued the tax burden was greater for the on-trade because higher prices mean more VAT and a bigger impact from property and employment taxes.

Martin added: “The tax paid by pubs and restaurants should be more fairly equated with tax paid by supermarkets.

“The previous government adopted an approach of increasing taxes and regulations for pubs, greatly increasing the costs of running these businesses.

“The effect of many of these taxes and regulations has been far greater for pubs than for supermarkets or other off-licensed premises.”?Martin said test purchasing of alcohol by police and Trading Standards was “hypocritical in the extreme and counter-productive”.

He added: “Almost all adults started drinking in pubs, as most will admit, at about the age of 15 or 16.

“Many permit their children of 15 or 16 to go to pubs, usually preferring the supervised drinking surroundings found in pubs compared with the unsupervised drinking environment of parties, streets and parks.”?Martin also threatened to boycott Diageo products due to the spirits company’s recent call for the duty escalator to be removed from spirits, a move JD Wetherspoon has rejected as “anti-pub”.

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