Sapporo sues Japan government over tax rates

Sapporo Breweries in Japan has filed a lawsuit against the Japanese government seeking a tax return for the amount paid on its Goku Zero beer.

The revenue collection agency rejected the ¥11.5 billion ($104 million, £84 million) refund claim that Sapporo wants from the National Tax Agency in additional liquor tax it paid for the beverage product.

Sapporo launched Goku Zero in 2013 with the intention of paying a lower liquor tax rate claiming the drink was a ‘third category’ beer (happoshu in Japanese).

But the brewer suspended shipments abroad after the National Tax Agency requested data on its production, saying the product may not be a happoshu beer.

Sapporo paid the ¥11.5 billion owed in additional liquor tax but the company has since re-analysed the product and reinstated its belief that it deserves tax reductions.

Japanese breweries have begun to develop third-category beers because of the higher profit margins through reduced taxes, but Sapporo will have to take the government to the Tokyo District Court first.