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Cheaper non-alcoholic drinks could take pain out of ‘Dry January’ – Ahearn

7th January 2024 - Senator Garret Ahearn

A reduction in the Value Added Tax (VAT) on non-alcoholic beverages would be welcomed by consumers, particularly those choosing to abstain from alcohol, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

Senator Garret Ahearn said: “Currently, it’s almost as expensive to buy a non-alcoholic drink as it is to buy one with alcohol. This pricing doesn’t encourage people to choose the healthier, non-alcoholic option, which is particularly unfair to designated drivers and those who consciously decide to avoid alcohol for health reasons.

“Recent survey findings illustrate a significant shift in Ireland’s drinking culture,” Senator Ahearn said.

“With half of those surveyed committing to ‘Dry January’ in 2024, and an equal proportion planning to reduce their alcohol consumption throughout the year, it’s clear we are witnessing a pivotal change in Irish attitudes towards alcohol.

“If someone opts to not consume alcohol, perhaps as a designated driver or for health purposes, they should not be financially penalised. Lowering VAT on non-alcoholic drinks is a step in the right direction.

“When he was Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe acknowledged the possibility of adjusting VAT rates, but pointed out that any move to extend reduced VAT rates to non-alcoholic beverages must be carefully considered, especially regarding its impact on exchequer revenues and potential for tax avoidance. I strongly believe that now is the right time to engage in this discussion and find creative solutions that address these issues.

“This proposal could result in a meaningful win-win for public health and road safety. It acknowledges the role of designated drivers and those who choose to abstain from alcohol, and it supports them in their choice. Our tax policy should reflect our commitment to healthy living and responsible behaviour.

“This change in VAT is more than a fiscal measure; it’s a statement about our values as a society. We need to support those who make conscientious decisions for the sake of their health and often the safety of others.” Senator Ahearn concluded.

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