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Not Every Fish Finds the Net

Excise Policy

The delicate balance between excise duty policy and effective tax administration will present a key challenge for policymakers in the years ahead

The countries of the region have seen significant changes to their excise duty policies over previous decades. Driven by fiscal pressures and a desire to align with European Union standards, the authorities have increased excise tax rates steadily on a variety of products, such as cigarettes, petrol and alcohol. This has resulted in soaring average excise yields. However, this excise yield surge was not fully reflected in tax revenues in most Western Balkan countries, with the growth of illicit trade having played a significant role in eroding revenue potential.

As the Western Balkan countries continue on their path to EU accession, they will be required to further align their excise duties with minimum EU levels. This article, compiled with pieces from journalists in all countries of the region, addresses the nature of excise duty burdens across the region and the need to make improvements in areas like tax enforcement and anti-smuggling efforts.

By Geri Kolgega, Journalist

Albania: New Tax Impact

Statistics show that revenue from excise duty has been increasing year on year. From €448 million collected in 2019, that total had risen to €580 million in 2023, with the government planning to collect 10% more during this year. As a percentage of total budget revenue, excise duty accounts for approximately 10%. Albania’s excise law underwent significant amendments in 2014. At that time, a schedule was...

By Armin Zeba, Journalist

Bosnia and Herzegovina: When the Coffee Turns Bitter

Thanks to inflation, the collection of indirect taxes in Bosnia and Herzegovina – representing one of the main sources of revenue for the budgets of the state and entities (half of the budgets of BiH and Republika Srpska, and a third of the budget of the Federation of BiH), has been growing year on year, last year reaching a record 10.6 billion BAM, a fifth...

By Srđan Popović, Journalist

Montenegro: Sudden Excise Tariff Hikes Complicate Business

Excise duty revenue on mineral oils and their derivatives amounted to €179.2 million last year and accounted for seven per cent of total budget revenue in 2023. Revenue from excise duties on tobacco and tobacco products amounted to €100.2 million last year, representing 3.9% of total revenue, while revenues from excise duties on alcohol and alcoholic beverages amounted to €21.2 million, or 0.8% of total...

By Adriano Milovan, Journalist

Croatia: 2024 Sets Record Budget

VAT remains the main “filler” of state coffers, with the state planning to collect €11 billion in VAT this year. However, excise duties are also extremely important on the revenue side. The state plans to collect around €2.5 billion in excise duties this year, which is up 3.9% on last year. Budget documents don’t state specifically how much the state plans to collect from which form...

By Dejan Azeski, Jurnalist

North Macedonia: Excise Duties are the Currency of Political Subterfuge

Experts and stakeholders respond constantly by insisting that a high percentage of taxation on this basis is unrealistic, the biggest evidence for which is the fact that it varies according to the populist needs of each incoming government. So, when mass dissatisfaction started building over the expensive energy for households, the government found the strength and a way to reduce excise duties on energy. However, in...

By Novica Mihajlović, Journalist

Slovenia: Rising Excise Duties Contribute to Inflation

The state collected €1.45 billion in excise duties last year, equating to 6.2% of all consolidated budget revenue. Slovenia’s 2024 budget envisages excise duties generating just over €1.5 billion, with total budget revenues set to amount to €14 billion. VAT thus remains the biggest budget contributor and should provide approximately €5.4 billion according to plans for this year, while excise duties represent the third largest...

By Nataša Damnjanović, Jurnalist

Serbia: Profiting on Petroleum

Excise duties are among the oldest forms of tax, with the Dutch having taxed beer and other alcoholic beverages, salt and sugar as far back as the 16th century. Their modern purpose is to compensate for the negative impact of the products they are applied to, because the burning of petroleum derivatives indisputably causes environmental pollution and human illness, vehicles wear out roads that must...