Suntory Australia has initiated urgent proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia to clarify the right of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to continue collecting RTD excise duties, following the defeat of its related bill last month.
Despite the fact the bill was voted down in the Senate on March 18, the ATO has announced it will continue to collect the higher rate of excise until May 13 and will not refund the excise duties already collected until the same date.
Suntory launched the legal case with the full support of other members of the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia (DSICA), which, as a body, is not a taxpayer and therefore is not eligible to take the case to court.
DSICA spokesperson Stephen Riden said the legal action is being taken to bring back certainty to the marketplace.
“We don’t see why consumers should pay a tax that Parliament has voted down,” he said.
A hearing on the case is scheduled for this afternoon, with the Federal Court moving quickly to give DSICA members a decision.