First the Sugar Tax – now the Health Tax! Government wants it both ways on health.

In news which has sent shockwaves throughout the entire health and vitality sector, the Minister for Finance is reported be eyeing up placing a flat rate of VAT on the majority of health food supplements. Food supplements would include everything, from your common multivitamin to keep a little pep in your step to Glucosamine Sulphate to help with achy knees or Vitamin D which is recommended for babies and supplementation during our long winter months. With the need for over 55s to keep healthy and maintain employment for social and economic reasons, diet, exercise and nutritional supplements have become key areas in supporting general well-being. 

Up to now all these products have been treated rather benignly by successive governments and they were not treated as luxury items – which is where most consumer purchases would incur VAT. Today however we have learnt that Revenue wish to treat supplements in the way that other luxuries are treated and that some degree of tax will be imposed upon their purchase, whether it be 13.5% or indeed the upper rate of 23%.

While we wait for a formal announcement at Budget 2019 or the Finance Bill, it is certainly expected that yet again consumers are being required to pay more for something which the Government should encourage rather than tax.
Matt Ronan from Evolv Health Store in Enniscorthy says “we expect there to be a wave of customer anger when it’s explained to people that products which they consider to be necessary to maintain their health are now to be taxed by a government that is struggling to provide a decent healthcare system”.