JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has accused the Government of ignorance over the tax burden facing pubs.
Speaking as the high street pub operator unveiled interim results today, Martin said: "In our view, the levels of tax now being levied are unsustainable for many pubs, and this, combined with other factors, is contributing to the closure of pubs in record numbers."
Martin said the tax burden was so great that each Wetherspoon pub was on average making £50,000 after-tax profit per pub, while generating tax of about £530,000 per pub each year.
Warning against further "tax grabs" Martin added: "The Government seems not to understand the economic impact of new taxes and legislation and continues to impose new burdens at a huge rate.
"For example, in the current financial year, it is estimated that Excise Duty increases will cost us an additional £15m, while new legislation increasing holiday entitlements will cost a further £4m."
Martin said that in order for the pub industry to prosper, taxes and social legislation imposed on businesses must be reduced or at least stay at current levels for a number of years.
Turnover in the half year increased 6.5% to £468.7m (2008: £440.2m) and pre-tax profit before exceptional items edged up 2% to £30.8m (2008: £30.2m).
The British Beer & Pub Association is currently running its own Axe The Beer Tax campaign but has had to contend with the shock departure of its chief executive Rob Hayward this week.
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By Chris Druce
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