23% to be added to cost of Food Supplements
The Revenue Commissioners announced in December of last year that VAT should be applied on all food supplements from the 1st of March this year (2019). This is a 23% increase on the 0% rate at which food supplements have been sold in Ireland for the past 40 years. The health products industry considers it totally inappropriate to tax foodstuffs with beneficial effects on health in this way and is warning that the sudden imposition of 23% tax on this important food category will have a serious and lasting impact on people’s health and on businesses across the country.
Historically, food supplements have been treated as foods for VAT purposes and have availed of the concessionary 0% rate applicable to foods in Ireland for over 40 years. However, since 2011 the Revenue Commissioners have been questioning whether all food supplements should be entitled to the concessionary rate. In December of last year they asked the Minister to apply a reduced rate of VAT on all food supplements in the Budget, but the Minister decided to take advice on the matter before potentially legislating in the next year’s Budget; whereupon the Revenue Commissioners decided that they would under their own cognisance apply the standard rate of VAT (23%) on all food supplements from the 1st of March.
The Health Product Industry considers that that it is not acceptable for any institution of the State to take unilateral action of this nature when the Government has stated that it is considering legislation on a matter, and is calling on the Revenue Commissioners and the Government to defer this decision to allow the Government to legislate as it deems appropriate. The industry is also calling on the Government to ensure that whatever steps they take will recognise the legal status of food supplements as foods under EU law, will involve appropriate consultation with the industry, and most importantly will respect the choices that consumers make when using food supplements to manage their health.
Food supplements are concentrated foodstuffs with nutritional and physiological effects, including vitamins, minerals fish oils, probiotics and a wide variety of plant preparations. They are widely used for the health benefits, for instance:
- To avoid deficiencies in essential nutrients (e.g. vitamin D, folic acid and iron);
- To reduce the risk factors associated with modern diet and life (e.g. excessive cholesterol in the blood, compromised natural flora in the digestive tract);
- To provide the body with the sort of intake levels of foodstuffs needed to optimise our health and live longer better quality lives..
According to an iReach survey commissioned by the trade association, IHTA, in 2018, 71% of Irish people buy vitamin, mineral and other food supplements all year round, with 73% of those regular consumers doing so to ‘’maintain and improve ongoing adult health.’’
The health products industry has launched a campaign to appeal to the Revenue Commissioners and the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe to defer the application of 23% VAT on Food Supplements on the 1st of March 2019, so as to allow the Government time to take the advice and legislate. However, the industry alone is unlikely to be heeded. We are therefore also calling on consumers to make their opinions heard on this matter by signing the petition and contacting their TDs and ask their support for this important consumer health initiative.
These products have brought comfort to our whole family
“I am the mother of a special needs son who has been sick since he was four years old. I cannot say enough about how much he has improved since taking probiotics, omega 3 and vitamin D. These supplements have given my son a completely new lease of life. The improvement is massive, really tremendous. It has been years since I have had the comfort of knowing he can go out without needing a change of clothes in case of accidents. Probiotics have made it possible for him to go out on day trips without having to worry about this. He recently went to the cinema with his new carer with no problems, without these probiotics this would not have been possible. These products have brought comfort to our whole family. I do not work and struggle to afford these products, it would be a disaster for my son if these products were to be increased in price due to Vat being applied at 23% as I would most certainly not be able to afford them.”
Stephanie, Co. Mayo
This will cancel my pension increase
“I am in my 70’s but I want to stay in good health for as long as possible. I do have osteoporosis which means I have to stay active and keep my joints moving. I have been taking a plant based omega 3 supplement for around 6 years now. I also take microbiotics and other supplements to boost my immune system. Having to pay VAT on food supplements would cost me around €250 extra annually – or to put it another way €5 weekly which would cancel out the increase to the old age pension in this year’s budget!”
Kathleen, Co. Wicklow
I would consider supplements to be a vital part of how I look after my health
” In April of 2016 I had a serious fall from a ladder and broke my left hip and wrist . As my wife and myself would tend to regularly use supplements to maintain the health of ourselves and our children I wanted to incorporate some of these items into my recovery as I felt that it would be more effective if I could do this.
Therefore following the setting of the fractures etc I brought several items in to the hospital and checked with the consultants and nursing staff that it was ok for to use them in conjunction with the medications that I had been recommended . There would have been products such as vitamin D, vitamin C glucosamine and probiotics. I was given an enthusiastic all clear to continue using these items during that lengthy process and I made an excellent recovery and was able to return to my job as a roofer . .
I continue to use supplements in order to help my system cope with a heavy workload and find that if I discontinue them for any length of time more than 2 weeks that I see a huge deterioration in my ability to work and therefore I am certain that they are a valuable addition to allowing me to be an effective parent and provider for my family.”
Oliver, Co. Wexford
I am surprised that such a move would be even considered by the Government
“My husband and myself run a farm which as everyone knows is quite a demanding occupation and in order for to avoid illness or becoming run down I try to support our health with a variety of food supplements.
These items would include such products as probiotics, multivitamins and also some specialist items such as boron and coenzyme Q10 and a closely related product called pqq.
Earlier this year one of my son’s was diagnosed with a mitochondrial disorder which affects the strength of his muscles I had to do quite a lot of research as it is a rare condition and very little is known about it and as such there is no specific treatment . Following my research I to use the Q10 and pqq supplements with him as they seem to be the most obvious choices to support him in his effort to regain his full strength. I would find it a huge additional burden on my normal budget if there were an extra tax added to what is often a considerable spend on these products and would be surprised that such a move would be even considered by the government.”
Margaret, Co. Wexford
I wouldn’t be able to afford what I need to stay well
“Health food and natural supplements have been part of my first aidkit, my diet, my go-to support for years. I use a range of excellent supplements to support my wellbeing and they work. I can’t remember the last time I visited a GP for an illness. The fact that I rarely miss a day of work is because I look after my health through diet, exercise, yoga, meditation & supplements. they are, to me as essential as the food I eat. Having to add 23% tax onto that purchase would impact my well being hugely. I wouldn’t be able to afford what I need to stay well. It’s that simple.”
Ruth, Co. Waterford
What else can I do?
Email the Minister
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