Govt Mulls Tax Hike on Non-Alcoholic Beer

Photo: Igor Ovsyannykov / Pixabay
Photo: Igor Ovsyannykov / Pixabay

BANGKOK — The government said it’s considering a tax increase on alcohol-free beer in order to discourage drinkers from eventually switching to alcoholic drinks.

Patchara Anantasilpa, director general of the Excise Department, announced Thursday a possible increase in tax on zero-alcohol beer, a recent entry into the Thai beverage market.

Patchara said that the Health Ministry wants non-alcoholic beers to be branded as “malt drinks” instead of “beer” on the basis of public health concerns. He reasoned that once drinkers develop a taste for non-alcoholic beers, they will likely progress to the alcoholic version.

Non-alcoholic beer is currently taxed at 14 percent – around 5 to 12 baht per can – making prices anywhere between 39 to 99 baht per can. This is compared to the 22-percent tax slapped on alcoholic beer, according to Patchara.

Patchara added that there should be clarity on the matter after Songkran, or later next week. He also said that cough syrups, which sometimes contain minor amounts of alcohol, could be affected by the tax increase if approved. This is because non-alcoholic beer or “malt drinks” are actually defined by alcohol contents of 0.5 percent.