Gull to appeal Customs decision to Supreme Court

March 19, 2013

March 19 (BusinessDesk) - Cut-price petrol retailer Gull Petroleum has won the right to appeal to the Supreme Court in its stoush with the Customs Department over the rate of excise duty it should charge on butane added to petrol arriving at the wharf in New Zealand.

The addition of locally produced butane effectively "waters down" the potency of Gull petrol, but allows the firm to offer petrol at a significantly lower per litre price than other major transport fuel retailers.

The excise rates on locally produced butane are lower than for imported product, but the import rate should be levied if the company is deemed to have been "manufacturing" petrol, Customs has argued.

Some $20 million of revenue is at stake.

Customs lost its argument in the High Court, won in the Court of Appeal in December, and now faces a Supreme Court hearing.

The issue came to light when BP New Zealand applied to do as Gull had been doing and was turned down. Customs then sought to claim alleged unpaid excise from Gull's subsidiary, Terminals New Zealand.