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German agency moots sausage tax

German agency moots sausage tax

BERLIN: Germany’s federal environmental agency has called for heavier VAT on meat and milk and other animal products. But while campaigners rejoiced, the environment minister has already rejected the idea.

It sounds like the quintessential German nightmare: frankfurters, salami, and schnitzel would be subject to higher tax rates if the federal environment agency (UBA) had its way. The UBA released a report on Thursday on what it called “environmentally-damaging subsidies” for certain industries.

Among these, it counted the reduced VAT on animal products. Since meat and milk cost so much more energy and natural resources to produce, the UBA argued, it should be subject to the full 19 percent VAT, not the reduced 7 percent that food is normally taxed at.

Perhaps mindful of Germany’s carnivorous culture, Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks, to whose department the UBA belongs, was quick to shoot down the idea. “These are the suggestions of the federal environment agency, not of the environment ministry,” she told the “Rheinische Post” newspaper. “I do not think much of individual measures included in them.”

More predictably, Food and Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt was equally dismissive. “The UBA’s demand is not new and doesn’t get better with regular repetition,” he told the same newspaper. “I don’t want to use punitive taxes to prescribe to citizens what they put on the table.”