Germany: Decision on beer tax is “a scandal”

The Bayerischer Brauerbund (Bavarian Brewers Association, BB) is not amused about a decision by the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany. The court made today a decision public which dates back to December 11, 2018. The ruling stated that an increase in beer tax for small and medium-sized enterprises which was introduced in 2004 is unconstitutional but nonetheless, the breweries will not get back the overpaid beer tax from the last 15 years.

“The Federal Constitutional Court has declared the corresponding provision in the budgetary support law as applicable, regardless of their unconstitutionality for the past!” says a today’s statement of the BB.

The BB had lodged a show appeal against the budget accompanying law of 2004 and has taken the case all the way up to the Federal Finance Court which in 2011confirmed the constitutional concerns of the BB and referred the case to the Federal Constitutional Court for decision. Finally, the Federal Constitutional Court declared the ruling as unconstitutional because of serious deficiencies in the legislative process and the exceeding of its competences by the Mediation Committee.

Georg Schneider, President of the BB, describes the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court as a scandal: "The beer tax quantity scale is over decades a functioning element, which ensures the competitiveness and survival of many small and medium-sized breweries through a reduced beer tax rate. Now, the Supreme Court finds that the progressive scale has been unconstitutionally changed to the detriment of the industry but we will not get back a cent back from the illegally overpaid taxes.”

And he goes on: “Why do hundreds of breweries have filed a protest month after month against their increased beer tax bill? Only to be right in the end? In this context the word "pro-small business" becomes merely an empty cliché and the confidence in the rule of law is being trampled upon!”

According to the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court, the Federal Finance Court can now conclude all pending lawsuits and objection procedures without any repayments. The silent hope of a refund of the unconstitutionally paid beer tax totalling several millions of euro has now been buried.

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