Black market booze, cigarettes and diesel lose taxman £30bn

Tim Wallace
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HIGHER taxes may boost the black market, a pressure group claimed yesterday as figures revealed the Treasury loses tens of billions of pounds from illicit sales of alcohol, tobacco and fuel.

The government lost out to the tune of £28.5bn from illegal sales between 2005-06 and 2009-10, figures from the Taxpayers’ Alliance showed.

The group used data from HM Revenue and Customs, and warned higher taxes will make the problem worse.

“Duties on fuel, cigarettes and alcohol hit those on low and middle incomes hardest.” said director Matthew Sinclair.

“High taxes also create fat profits for criminals.”

“With new tax hikes, and proposals for a minimum price on alcohol, the chancellor runs the risk of making that black market even more profitable.”

Trade in illicit cigarettes was the biggest cost to the taxman, losing £12.2bn in revenues.

Diesel followed at £6.4bn, with illegal sales of hand rolling tobacco worth £4.5bn in tax, illegal beer sales accounting for £3.2bn and spirits coming in at £2.3bn.