Food: Federal Environment Agency for fruit and vegetables without VAT

Federal Environment Agency for fruit and vegetables without VAT

Experts are calling for VAT to be reduced to zero for certain foods. Photo: Sven Hoppe/dpa

© dpa-infocom GmbH

The sharp price jumps at the supermarket checkouts are fueling the debate about tax relief for food. Products such as fruit and vegetables are particularly in focus – not only for reasons of cost.

The Federal Environment Agency has called for a general abolition of VAT for plant-based foods.

“A more plant-based diet relieves the environment and is also healthy,” said President Dirk Messner of the German Press Agency. Therefore, it makes sense to completely exempt plant-based foods from VAT – especially in view of the sharp rise in the price of fruit and vegetables. “Everyone should be able to afford a healthy diet, even on low incomes.”

The debate about price reductions for certain foods has picked up speed again in view of the high inflation. Social and consumer associations have called on the federal government to use new EU rules and set VAT to zero percent for food such as fruit and vegetables. Federal Minister of Agriculture Cem Özdemir (Greens) supported the demands. In the traffic light coalition, however, they are met with widespread skepticism. Reference is made to two billion-dollar packages with other relief measures that have already been launched.

Systematically relieve the burden on environmentally friendly products

Messner said a VAT exemption for plant-based products would be a good addition. “Because it also relieves those groups that have hardly benefited from the relief packages so far, for example pensioners with low incomes.”

In general, however, it would not have been enough to limit a VAT reform to this, Messner made clear. A comprehensive concept is needed that systematically relieves the burden on environmentally friendly products and eliminates tax breaks for products that are particularly harmful to the environment. The EU VAT Directive now offers new opportunities that should be used. The Federal Environment Agency will present proposals shortly.

VAT is usually 19 percent. A reduced rate of 7 percent subsidizes products that serve the common good – including staples such as milk, meat, fruit, vegetables and baked goods.


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