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Medicine Stamp Duties


    DUTIES in respect of medicines were first imposed so far back as 1783. The tax then was twofold, as it is to-day. It was imposed on all persons who sold medicines, not being doctors, apothecaries, etc., and secondly a duty was 'laid on the medicines' themselves when sold by such persons. A Select Committee was appointed in November 1936 to consider the duties of excise chargeable under the Acts of 1802, 1804 and 1812, and any amendments thereto, and to report thereon and to make recommendations, and its report has now been issued (London: H.M. Stationery Office, 1937 ; price 3d. net). Complete abolition of these duties has been advocated, but the Committee recommends that the duties ought to continue and should apply to a wider field, and bring in a much larger revenue. At the same time, it recommends that the duty should be at the rate of twopence instead of threepence in the shilling, and should be graduated less steeply. The recommendations are of a far-reaching character, and bring in everything that looks like a drug or smells like one. As drafted, it would even seem that medicines prescribed or dispensed by medical practitioners are included, though it can scarcely be believed that this was intended. The Committee also sees no reason why the "modern chemist" should have "a very valuable preference" in the sale of preparations which claim the "known, admitted, and approved remedy" exemption which has hitherto enabled them to sell unstamped certain types of preparations liable to duty if sold by ordinary shopkeepers. Despite defects, the recommendations are on the whole in the interests of the public, and with certain amendments should prove acceptable.

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