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Ireland Introducing Tax On Sugary Drinks

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Irish Government will press ahead with plans for the introduction of a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks from April 2018.

The measure was first announced in the 2017 Budget, by the then-Finance Minister Michael Noonan. A public consultation process followed, and Noonan's successor as Finance Minister, Paschal Donohoe, has now announced that the Government will go ahead with the scheme.

Under plans unveiled in Donohoe's 2018 Budget, the tax will apply to non-alcoholic, water-based, and juice-based drinks with an added sugar content of five grams per 100 millilitres and above. The rate of tax applied will be based upon the sugar content of each drink.

Sugar-sweetened drinks with between five and eight grams of added sugar per 100 millilitres will attract a tax of 20 percent per litre. Drinks with a sugar content of eight grams or more will be taxed at 30 percent per litre.

Pure fruit juices that do not contain added sugar will not be subject to the tax, due to their nutritional value, and the vitamins and fibre they provide. However, if sugar is added to these drinks, then the entire sugar content will become liable to the tax. Dairy products will be outside the scope of the tax.

Where products produced by small producers are exempted from particular EU food labelling obligations, the tax will not apply. The tax will become liable at the first supply in Ireland.

The measure will apply from April 2018, when the UK also introduces a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks.

The Government expects the tax to raise around EUR30m (USD35.5m) in 2018, rising to EUR40m in a full year.

The proposal was criticized by industry group the Irish Beverage Council. Director Colm Jordan argued that "taxing one ingredient in some sugary drinks, but not all sugary drinks, will not combat the complex challenge of obesity."