Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Questions (151, 152)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

151. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 42 of 3 December 2014, his views on whether the two supplements specified in the question, probiotics and glucosamine could legally qualify as zero rated food supplements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30362/19]

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Darragh O'Brien

Question:

152. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Finance the reason it is not possible to retain the zero rate of VAT on food supplements as a class of food products recognised by the State in legislation in view of the fact that this class of product has been sold at the zero rate of VAT since that rate was first introduced in 1973 and continues to be sold at that rate to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30363/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 151 and 152 together.

The standard rate of VAT applies to food supplements. However, a Revenue concession allowed the zero rate to be applied to certain types of vitamins, minerals and fish oils. Because of difficulties in interpretation, the Revenue Commissioners decided to remove this concession with effect from 1 March 2019 so that all food supplements will be charged at the standard VAT rate. However, independent of Revenue’s decisions on interpretation, I agreed during the recent Finance Bill to put in place a process, that will conclude in the 2019 Tax Strategy Group Paper, to examine some of the policy choices around the VAT treatment of food supplements. Revenue responded by delaying the withdrawal of its concessionary zero rating of the food supplement products concerned until 1 November 2019. This will allow time for the enactment of any legislative changes in the context of Budget 2020.

My Department has recently concluded the public consultation on the taxation of food supplement products. The consultation sought input from a wide range of interested parties, including health and nutrition experts as well as my colleague the Minister for Health, to ensure that any legislative changes brought forward are evidence based. Officials in my department reviewed the submissions received and this review was presented to a meeting of the Tax Strategy Group (TSG) on 9th July. The TSG Papers will be published on the Department's website shortly.

With regard to Parliamentary Question No. 42 of 3 December 2014, and the two supplements specified in the Question, probiotics and glucosamine, the case remains that there is insufficient information provided to make a determination. If the Deputy could provide more information on the food supplements in question, the Revenue Commissioners can advise on their correct VAT treatment as appropriate.

It should also, however, be noted that human oral medicines, including certain folic acid and other vitamin and mineral products, licensed by the Health Products Regulatory Association will continue to apply at the zero rate of VAT. Infant foods will also continue to be zero rated.