News & Media

Keep food supplements tax free

1 October 2019

Statement by Brendan Howlin TD
Party Leader and Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Northern Ireland

Speaking in relation to the issue of VAT on food supplements, the leader of the Labour Party, Brendan Howlin TD, reiterated his support for no change in the zero rating of food supplements in Budget 2020.

Deputy Howlin said:

“It has been the case for decades that the state charges the 0% rate of VAT on vitamins, minerals and other food supplements. There is no reason to change this policy at this time.

“Adding up to 23% in VAT to these products will put many small, family-run businesses under pressure, at a time when they are already facing potential extra costs from Brexit because many food supplements come into Ireland from the UK. We should not risk losing jobs in town and village main streets by putting up this tax.

“Scientific evidence has shown that food supplements can prevent or reduce the onset of illness. For example, research by Professor John Nolan of Waterford Institute of Technology has shown that regular food supplements can delay or prevent the onset of sight loss due to macular degeneration.

“Tax policy has been moving towards taxing ‘bads’ rather than ‘goods’. Labour welcomed the introduction of a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks, as well as on disposable plastic bags, which help change behaviour. Taxing food supplements at a higher rate than unhealthy junk food makes no sense and is likely to nudge people’s choices in the wrong direction.

“Labour proposes no change to the VAT status of food supplements in Budget 2020. It won’t cost anything to continue with the status quo, whereas there are potential costs involved in changing the VAT rules that could well outweigh any increase in revenue.”