Estonian tax authority focused on smuggling, not alcohol, on Estonian-Latvian border

The Estonian-Latvian border in the twin towns of Valga and Valka. (Postimees/Scanpix)
7/13/2016 12:47 PM
Source: BNS
Category: News

Commenting on the extensive coverage that the media has given to cheaper taxes in Latvia leading to Estonians crossing the border to purchase alcohol on the Latvian side, the Estonian Tax and Customs Board (MTA) has said that their focus is on smuggling and smugglers, and that bringing alcohol across the border from Latvia for one's own consumption is a lawful activity.

"As a rule, there is free movement of goods between member states of the EU, which means that one can also bring alcohol in the permitted amount from another member state for one's own needs," the tax authority said on social media. "The most important thing for us is that people wouldn't commit an offense out of ignorance, therefore the aim of our actions is first and foremost to raise people's awareness regarding what kind of alcohol in what amounts can be brought in."

The MTA pointed out that an adult person arriving in Estonia from another EU member state can bring with them for personal use up to 110 liters of beer, up to 90 liters of wine and up to 10 liters of strong alcoholic beverages, as well as 20 liters of other alcoholic beverages.

"Of course, people from the Tax and Customs Board can be seen doing their work within the vicinity of the Estonian-Latvian border as well, but our focus is on smuggling and o people who turn it into a business, bypassing the requirements in place for trading in alcohol," they added.

Several Estonian media outlets have reported in recent weeks about stores on the Latvian side of the Estonian-Latvian border reaping large profits from cross-border trade, as many people from Estonia prefer to stock up on alcohol in Latvia, where lower taxes have meant considerably lower alcohol prices overall.

Editor: Aili Sarapik

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