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Drink duty appeal to Brown.

GORDON Brown has been urged by retailers to reduce excise duties after judges in Luxembourg blocked online shoppers from buying cut-price cigarettes and alcohol anywhere in Europe.

High UK duty rates sparked the "booze cruise" generation, crossing the Channel to buy cheaper goods, depriving the Treasury of about pounds 1 billion a year in revenue.

But yesterday the European Court of Justice saved the Chancellor a much bigger financial headache by declaring that online or mail order shoppers still have to pay UK taxes on drink and cigarettes imported from elsewhere in the EU.

A Government official said the verdict was "a victory for common sense", a view shared by retailers.

But even they said it was time to rethink high British duties, and create a "level playing field" in excise duties to avoid the need to shop elsewhere.

Shoppers relying on delivery from abroad by someone else will continue to pay the Chancellor's levy on imports.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Nov 24, 2006
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