Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Questions (66, 67, 68, 69, 70)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

66. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Finance the estimated revenue that could be raised if the sugar sweetened drinks tax was extended to include mineral waters and aerated waters that contain added sugar; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21523/18]

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Louise O'Reilly

Question:

67. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Finance the estimated revenue that could be raised if the sugar sweetened drinks tax was extended to include non-alcoholic beer and alcohol free wine; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21524/18]

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Louise O'Reilly

Question:

68. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Finance the estimated revenue that could be raised if the sugar sweetened drinks tax was extended to include soya based beverages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21525/18]

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Louise O'Reilly

Question:

69. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Finance the estimated revenue that could be raised if the sugar sweetened drinks tax was extended to include beverages based on nuts, cereals or seeds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21526/18]

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Louise O'Reilly

Question:

70. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Finance the estimated revenue that could be raised if the sugar sweetened drinks tax was extended to include milk based products; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21527/18]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 66 to 70, inclusive, together.

The sugar-sweetened drinks tax applies to products if they satisfy three criteria.

The first of which is the Customs Combined Nomenclature Code - the tax applies to fruit juices (CN Code 2009) and waters, including mineral and waters and aerated water (CN Code 2202). The second of which is if they contain added sugar, and the third criteria is if they contain 5 grams of sugar or more per 100 millilitres.

The rationale behind the tax is to help tackle the overweight and obesity problem in Ireland. A small number of exemptions exist for drinks within the CN 2202 category on the basis of the policy rationale for the introduction of the tax. These include, non-alcoholic products as they offer an alternative to alcohol products. Soya, cereal, nut, and seed based drinks offer an alternative to dairy for persons with dietary requirements such as lactose intolerance. Further to this, products with milk fats are exempted as they are comparable to dairy products such as milk. Milk is outside of the tax on the basis of the health benefits it offers such as calcium and protein. For reasons of clarity an amendment to the legislation will be brought forward in this years Finance Bill to impose a calcium threshold on products within these exempt categories.

In order to ensure that the tax is free from State aid a formal notification of Ireland's intention to introduce the tax was submitted to the European Commission earlier this year. The Commission found that the tax, as designed, did not constitute aid.

It is estimated that the yield from the sugar sweetened drinks tax will be of the order of €40m in a full year. The additional tax yield from extending the scope of the tax to the aforementioned products is likely to be very low. In any event, as the design and scope of the tax have been approved by the European Commission it is not possible to alter these without opening up the potential for litigation and consequently the potential to jeopardise the existence of the tax.