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Finland: Proposal to Extend Sugar Tax

(July 16, 2012) On July 5, 2012, Finland's Sugar Tax Working Group released an interim report, recommending extension of the tax on sugar. (Press Release No. 141/2012, Ministry of Finance, InterimReport of the Sugar Tax Working Group Completed (July 5, 2012), Ministry of Finance website.) The final report of the group will be completed in late November of this year. (Id.)

Finland currently imposes an excise tax on sweets, ice cream, and soft drinks (Excise Tax, Ministry of Finance website (last visited July 13, 2012)), but is considering extending the tax to sweetened yoghurt, cookies, jams, and juices. (James O'Sullivan, Proposed Sugar Tax to Affect More Foods, HELSINKI TIMES (July 12, 2012); Press Release, supra.)

The extended tax could be based on total sugar content or on the amount of added sugar in a product. Although they naturally contain sugar, fresh fruits and vegetables that have not been processed in any way are considered a healthy part of a person's diet and thus would not be taxed. (Press Release, supra.)

There are potential restrictions that could impact how any planned extension of the sugar tax is developed from national and European law. Both legal regimes set mandatory boundaries on any tax model. Finnish tax law requires precise specifications for taxable products, and EU rules place limits on what products are taxable. Under EU law, a tax must be the same for both domestic and imported products. (Id.)

(For background on a previous increase in the sugar tax in Finland, see Wendy Zeldin, Finland: Budget Proposal Foresees Higher Energy, Sweets, and Soft Drink Taxes, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Aug. 2, 2010); for a discussion of a similar tax proposal in Denmark, see Constance A. Johnson, Denmark: Tax on Sugar Proposed, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Mar. 13, 2012); see also Rod Addy, Danish Government Considers Abandoning Fat, Sugar Tax, FOOD NAVIGATOR.COM (July 11, 2012).)