Revenue’s Dead of Night Stealth Slaps 23% VAT on Health Supplements

Campaign under way: Castleisland Pharmacist, Aileen Lynch highlighting the extra expense which will face people who take food supplements when the proposed 23% VAT hike is imposed on March 1st.

The immediate introduction of a 23%VAT rate on all food supplements, including vitamins, minerals and fish oils will have a severe impact of people’s health and it will threaten the viability of many local businesses.

“This does not respect people’s health choices and will have a serious and long-lasting impact on people’s health and on local businesses across the country,” said Castleisland Pharmacist, Aileen Lynch in a circular released this week.

Aileen, who celebrated the 25th anniversary of the opening of her business at Lower Main Street just before Christmas, outlines below the concerns and threats which, she said, will come with the increase.

VAT Increase Due on March 1st

On December 27th last the Revenue Commissioners introduced a blanket 23% VAT rate for all food supplements, to come into effect on 1st March 2019.

For the past 40 years food supplements have been sold at the 0% rate, including products such as Vitamin C; Cod Liver Oil and Omega 3.

The unprecedented move by Revenue will have a serious negative impact on people’s health and be disastrous for many local businesses around the county.

Health of Vulnerable People

“This move means a 23% increase in the cost of vital food supplements, which will undermine the health of vulnerable people in our society such as the elderly and also those trying to manage their health through diet.

In a society that is suffering from an epidemic of food-related diseases, to impose an immediate 23% increase in the cost of foodstuffs which are beneficial to your health, like Vitamin C or Vitamin D, makes no sense.

Radical Price Increase

People invest in food supplements out of their disposable income and such a radical increase in price is bound to push the cost beyond what many people can afford, seriously threatening the viability of the health stores and pharmacies who strive to offer this important health service.

Health stores are particularly vulnerable because they are often small, independent businesses on the main street of small towns right across Ireland and to see these close would be hugely damaging to local communities.

All Year Round Trade

According to industry figures, food supplements account for around 50% of health stores sales, and also an increasingly significant portion of revenue for Irish pharmacies. According to an iReach survey commissioned by the Irish Health Trade Association (IHTA), 71% of Irish people buy vitamins, minerals and other food supplements all year round, with 73% of those regular consumers doing so to “maintain and improve ongoing adult health.”

Appeal to Revenue and Minister

The IHTA has launched a campaign to appeal to the Revenue Commissioners and the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe not to increase VAT on food supplements and will be ramping up activity in the coming weeks. Health Stores Ireland, the association for health food stores, and the Irish Pharmacy Union have also come out against the VAT increase.

You can get involved in the campaign with a click on the link here:

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