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An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

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Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor

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Snippet Contents:

I want to address an issue that has been raised previously, namely, VAT on food supplements. The Revenue Commissioners published its revised guidance at the end of last year on how various food supplements would be treated for VAT purposes on 1 March 2019. This will have serious implications for many food and food supplement items and it will end up costing the end consumer far more.
In the Revenue review, it referred to various items which would continue to be deemed to be food items and therefore be exempt from VAT. Typically, these would be products that are licensed or authorised by the Health Products Regulatory Authority. However, from 1 March 2019 many items will be considered food supplements and will be liable for the standard rate of VAT at 23%. This new treatment is extremely broad. Many items have a zero rate of VAT and will now be subject to 23% VAT. This will mean that the cost of those items is likely to increase substantially over the coming months and that is the biggest fear that people who are coming into my clinics have been expressing. I had a lady in with me recently who is on Macushield. It is a macro degeneration and it costs about €25 per box. That will go up by €5.75 extra so it will be €31. These are elderly people who have come to my clinic and that is just one example. We have continually asked the Minister to review this issue and to address these concerns but we do not seem to be taken seriously. The Taoiseach stated: That is not right. It was an extremely unhelpful comment and he should not have made it.
I recently joined an awareness rally for Lyme disease. One of the campaigners comes from Carlow and she relies on health supplements so she can live a normal life because she has Lyme disease. She spends over €200 a month on health supplements prescribed by her consultant. If her supplements are hit with this tax, she will not be able to afford them. We cannot on the one hand counsel awareness of diseases such as Lyme disease and then not help the victims. I call on the Minister to come into the Seanad before 1 March.