Friday, 26 August 2011

A fat tax?

There are reports this morning about the often considered "fat tax" (in the Lancet )

Let me say a couple of things first. I should declare an interest here, as I am overweight (but not ashamedly so ) and would be hit by the tax should it be levied

And secondly, perhaps the reporting of this has exaggerated the issue (not untypically these days )  by the BBC

I'm all for tackling obesity and the health problems arising from it, but I'm still a believer in educating people on this, rather than taxing everyone the same, obese or not.

A quick "Google" shows that the subject of taxing "fatty foods" has been regularly aired, and that the Government (of whichever colour) always say "We have no plans etc etc " and the Opposition (of whatever colour ) say "The Government should address the problem of obesity etc etc  ..)

But VAT (and Purchase Tax before it) taxes so-called unhealthy foods at the standard rate and more healthy foods at the zero-rate. So what is this but a fat tax in all but name?

The following are examples of the sort of things to be targeted for a suggested fat tax:- Sweets, Chocolate biscuits, take-aways , crisps and snacks. Notice the connection, these are already subject to VAT at 20%

I'm not saying that I disgree with this, in fact the scoping of VAT on food needs to be addressed and reviewed, (it's based on 60 year old legislation, ) but further taxing these items is going to lead to bureaucratic nightmares, and the health benefits are uncertain to say the least.

It's good of the Lancet to highlight the problems of obesity, but to tackle the problem by taxing it is not the right way to go at it !

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