Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Finance Michael McGrath has said that plans to increase VAT on many food supplements from 0% to 23% should be halted pending a planned review by the Tax Strategy Group.

Deputy McGrath commented, “I raised this issue twice directly with the Minister as the Finance Bill was proceeding through the Oireachtas last year.   As a consequence, the Minister committed to reviewing the issue as part of the Tax Strategy Papers which are published every summer.  These papers examine various tax issues and outline proposals to be considered in the forthcoming budget.

“Speaking during report stage of the Finance Bill, Minister of State D’Arcy stated that ‘the tax strategy group will bring clarity to the entire food supplement sector. With more information available to us, we may then be able to deal with the matter more fully in the Budget in 2019.’ However, new Revenue guidance was issued in late December 2018 and confirmed that VAT of 23% would apply to food supplements from 1st March 2019.

“At no stage did the Minister or the government indicate that the Revenue Commissioners were planning to publish revised guidelines in advance of the Tax Strategy Group examining the issue.  While Revenue is independent in the performance of its functions, it makes sense that no changes are made in this area until the Tax Strategy Group has had an opportunity to consider the issues more fully.

“People are taking various food supplements for all sorts of reasons and broadly in an effort to live healthier lives, and this change will have a detrimental impact on them.  For individuals and families already under pressure from the rising cost of living, this increase is most certainly not needed. The sector too will inevitably suffer significantly.

“Perhaps the true view of government was revealed by comments made by the Taoiseach in the Dáil before Christmas when he said “food supplements very rarely do anything for our health.  They are mostly snake oil and just cost people money”.  The Taoiseach’s ignorant comments displayed a basic lack of understanding of the importance of various types of food supplements.

“I believe these changes should be halted until a full review can take place as part of the Tax Strategy Papers due to be published in the summer”, concluded McGrath.