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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
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 30 years working within the taxation profession. Annette is a CTA, FCPA and holds a Masters in Taxation. Annette is also the Chair of the Tax Institutes WA Professional Development committee and Deputy Chair of Women In Tax (WA) - Current at 11 July 2019
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Prof Dale Pinto CTA-Life
Photo of author, Dale PINTO Dale is currently Professor of Taxation Law in the Curtin Law School as well as being the Chair of the Academic Board at Curtin University. Dale is the author and co-author of numerous books, refereed articles and national and international conference papers and sits on the editorial board of a number of peer-reviewed journals as well as being the Editor-in-Chief of several refereed journals. He is a member of the Board of CPA Australia and is also a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law as well as being a Chartered Accountant, Chartered Tax Adviser and Honorary Life Member of the Tax Institute. He is also a Life Member of the Australasian Tax Teachers Association and the Australasian Law Teachers Association. Dale has been a registered tax agent for more than 25 years and was appointed by the Assistant Treasurer as one of the inaugural members of the National Tax Practitioners Board. He is a current member of the Board of Taxation’s Special Advisory Panel and the ATO’s Tax Technical Panel as well as the Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Economic Development Forum in WA. Dale is a member of the Tertiary Education and Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA) Expert Panel in Accounting, Taxation and International Education. - Current at 13 August 2019
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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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