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The WET: Is it a good drop?


The wine equalisation tax (WET), introduced by the A New Tax System (Wine Equalisation Tax) Act 1999 (Cth), is, in essence, a wholesale sales tax on certain wine containing a specified content of potable alcohol that is sold for consumption in Australia. The apparent fiscal purpose of the Act is to reduce and recoup the public costs of alcohol abuse. The hallmarks of sound tax legislation are traditionally encapsulated in the tax policy principles of simplicity, equity, economic efficiency and fiscal adequacy.

This article explores the extent to which these hallmarks are reflected in the rules of the Act. The authors conclude that the WET is not a “good tax” in light of any of the principles, and its deficiencies raise the threshold issue of whether alcohol taxation is an appropriate way to address the public costs of alcohol abuse. In the authors’ opinion, there is no valid argument for its retention.

Author profiles

Annette Morgan CTA
Study Period 1 2017 CTA1 - Lecture Presenter - Lecture 4: GST, Lecture 5: CGT and Lecture 6: FBT Annette is a lecturer at Curtin University within the Taxation Area who prior to joining Curtin on a full time basis in early 2011 was employed as a Senior Tax Manager in a Perth based accounting firm. Annette has extensive experience in all areas of taxation gained from more than 25 years working within the taxation profession. Annette is a CTA, FCPA and holds a Masters in Taxation. Annette is also the Deputy chair of the Tax Institutes WA Professional Development committee. - Current at 26 June 2017
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Prof Dale Pinto CTA-Life
Photo of author, Dale PINTO Dale is currently a Professor of Taxation Law in the Curtin Law School at Curtin University. He is the 2018 President of the Divisional Council of CPA Australia (WA Division) and is also a Fellow of CPA Australia, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law and is a Chartered Accountant, Chartered Tax Adviser and Life Member of the Tax Institute. Dale is the author/co-author of numerous books, refereed articles and national and international conference papers, and is on the editorial board of a number of peer-reviewed journals as well as being the Editor-in-Chief of several refereed journals. Dale is the Chair of the Tax Institute's National Education Quality Assurance Board and is a member of TEQSA's Expert Panel in Accounting and Taxation. Dale served as an inaugural member of the National Tax Practitioners Board and is a current member of the Board of Taxation's Advisory Panel and the ATO's Tax Technical Panel (Superannuation), as well as the Tax Institute's Technical Committees (Superannuation, Not-for-Profit Organisations and Large Business and International). - Current at 14 March 2018
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Prof Glenton Barton CTA-Life
Glen is a Professor in the Department of Accounting and Finance in the Business School of the University of Western Australia. He is a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Western Australia and former member in the General and Taxation Division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Perth Registry and Life Member of the Taxation Institute of Australia. - Current at 01 October 2009
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