From Iceland — Alcohol Tax: Iceland Pay The Most In Europe

Alcohol Tax: Iceland Pay The Most In Europe

Published October 3, 2017

Elías Þórsson
Photo by
Art Bicnick

With the proposed 2018 government budget, alcohol taxes will become the highest in Europe, the Icelandic Federation of Trade wrote in a press release.

According to figures from Spirits Europe white and red wine sold in Iceland is the heaviest taxed in Europe and with the proposed hike, the price of the cheapest available bottle of wine will rise by 11.1%. An argument put forth by the government has been to create parity between alcohol taxes on beer and wine.

“We understand the reasoning behind making taxes on wine and beer equal,” said the federation’s Secretary General Ólafur Stephensen. “However, taxes on alcohol have reached such completely nonsensical levels that we should be lowering taxes on beer rather than raising them on wine.”

To name one example of the level of taxation on alcohol in Iceland–84.4% of the price of a bottle of vodka is due to taxes.


A Graph comparing Alcohol taxation across europe

Comparison of alcohol taxes in Europe. Iceland is the Mt. Everest in the middle.

Way worse than Norway

When compared to Norway, a neighbouring country with high alcohol taxes, Icelandic taxes are on average 28.8% higher in Iceland, with taxes on fortified wines, such as port and sherry, a whopping 89% higher.

Ólafur adds that because taxes on alcohol are a fixed ISK amount based on alcohol percentage, cheaper wines will become proportionately more expensive than expensive ones. “Yet again those who have the least get hit the hardest by tax happy authorities,” Ólafur said.

“It is high time that some of those so-called liberal MPs in government to say “enough is enough” it is impossible to endlessly raise taxes on a single consumable good,” he concluded.

Let us drink, please

We at the Grapevine don’t drink nearly enough alcohol. Journalists make little money and happy hour ends way too early. This lack of drinking has created something of a panic in the office. We work long hours and are very shy.

In fact, things have gotten so dire that we’ve started to make the interns distil moonshine in the office toilets. This has fostered anger among the interns–at one point almost leading to a full scale open (alcohol based) revolt–but the worst thing is that they are terrible at it. What was supposed to bring us closer to the interns has created a rift we fear will be impossible to mend.

That’s on you government.

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