Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has called on the Government to delay its plans to levy a 23% VAT rate on food supplements, saying that people who are proactive with their health should not be financially penalised and discouraged by massive price increases.

The Sinn Féin TD comments come amid growing opposition from both consumers and industry to the introduction of a 23% VAT rate being applied to all food supplements, including vitamins, minerals, fish oils, and probiotics, from the 1 March 2019.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“There are genuine and legitimate concerns coming from consumers, retailers, and manufactures that this introduction of a 23%VAT rate on all food supplement products planned for 1 March will have a significant impact on not just those employed in the sector, but it will also place a hefty and substantial financial burden on customers.

“When Sinn Féin raised this issue during the Finance Bill the Minister agreed to examine it in the context of the Tax Strategy Papers later this year.

“We know too that the Revenue Commissioners are sitting on an expert report on the issue.

“Yet, we have this huge increase supposedly going ahead on 1 March, regardless of its impact, because someone in revenue decided this increase is now due.

“Minister Donohue has said he will review this new increase, but he hasn’t told us when or how long this review will take.

“In my opinion it is absolute madness that people who are clearly proactive with their health and adopting a healthier approach to their lifestyle, trying to build their immune systems, should be financially penalised and discouraged by massive price increases.

“Unfortunately we do know that any increases will have a knock on effect and impact on tens of thousands of users of supplements and Irish workers in that sector.

“The Minister would appear to be pushing ahead with this decision despite the fact that we have not been given any clarity on what shape future rules will take and the Revenue Commissioners’ expert report has yet to be published.

“Sinn Féin and I are therefore calling for the introduction of this 23% VAT rate to be halted until we have full clarity on future VAT treatment in this area and until we fully understand the full impact of these drastic changes.”